My memory not being what it used to be isn’t much help in telling me when I got my hammock. I spent a lot of time in Mexico in the eighties and it was either a gift or something I picked up from a hammock maker. It’s made of cloth not much wider than a sneaker’s shoe lace with knots at the joints to keep it sturdy. There are alternating ribbons of green and white. I’m sure I chose those colors to honor the Boston Celtics. They wouldn’t have had scarlet and black for Rutgers. That would have been my first choice. Besides, hammocks are for the yard in the summer shade over green grass and under ovine white clouds. I estimate the hammock to be about thirty years old. In California I had no place to use it so it was packed away as part of my retirement trousseau if I should live so long.
When I was ready to leave that hellish state to hopefully live out my life in El Salvador I optimistically included the hammock among the few precious items I just couldn’t bear to leave behind. For the first fifteen months here I either stayed with friends or rented a room. When I finally found a small cottage for rent I knew the time had come for me to initiate my keepsake. There was an iron grille over a back window and a shade tree a convenient distance away. It was the dry season, the perfect time to think about afternoon siestas after my classes.
I had to wash the hammock after years of storage and dust collecting. It glistened in the tropic sunlight and I felt a rush as I hung it. It was just the right height. I sat upon the welcoming web and gently pushed off to make sure it would hold my weight and not dump me on the ground. It was good. I brought my legs on board and adjusted my body so that my head was higher than my feet. Perfect. It wasn’t long before the breeze was my source of motion and I was lulled to sleep.
There were many afternoons like this. I would have visitors and invite them to enjoy my wonderful hammock. One child especially loved to have me push her while she smiled and laughed as if it were a ride at Disneyland. Until…
One afternoon she was rocking herself on the hammock when suddenly she hit the ground. The window grille was cemented to the brick wall of the house. They don’t use a very strong ratio of cement, sand, and water to their cement here to save money. The cement gave way and the corner of the grille came loose along with the cement that surrounded the mounting and down came the child and the hammock. She was scared but not hurt. I was thankful for that but sad at losing the use of the hammock. Tying it to the other side of the grille would undoubtedly result in the same end. What to do?
Having a rented house with occasional visits from the aging landlord to check his property, I contacted a friend who among his other professions was a mason. He came at his earliest convenience and repaired the damage to the house. But I was afraid to hang the hammock again.
So the hammock went back into storage. By 2010 Margarita and I married and rented a larger house with a covered patio…but no place to hang a hammock. In 2013 we had to move again and our new location also had no place to hang it. We found a better place in 2015 with a large yard but we used most of that for a vegetable garden and chicken pens. Margarita decided to grow a local gourd and built a ramada out of long bamboo poles. That created a decent shaded area and uprights from which I could hang the hammock.
Finally, after having my hernia surgery I can be truly a retired gentleman farmer. I have brass hooks on sturdy plates which I’ve screwed into the bamboo. I had to reinstall them a few times to get the hammock at the right height. It was ready for testing. Oh, oh! My creaky old knees wouldn’t let me slowly squat to put my weight on it. I asked Margarita to test it. Lo and behold it stretched to within a couple of inches of the cement septic tank cover.
So this morning I found the right height and reinstalled the hammock hopefully for the last time. I didn’t sit on it but pressed it down with my hands putting all my weight on it. It was just right. But one of the ribbons had broken. I imagine being cloth it aged and weakened. I tied a knot and pressed it again. It seems just fine. I had to move a hanging plant to allow it to move to and fro as a good hammock should. Now I need to go outside and offer it my body.
We went outside to take photographs of the hammock and me in it. The first part went just fine. Adriana and Margarita held the hammock open and I took the picture.
Then I got myself on to the hammock for Adriana to take my picture. I reviewed with her how to do it and she positioned herself for the magic moment. But the ribbons started to rip one by one and suddenly I was on the ground with Margarita behind me her arms under my armpits.
I told Adriana to take the photo. I had a big smile on my face…so I thought. What I didn’t know was that she took the perfect picture. She wasn’t sure she was pushing the right button and there was no picture on the screen. While she was blah-blahing to her mother the camera shut off and I had to show her again how to turn it on. She kept talking and by the time she was ready the camera was off. She didn’t know she had taken a third photo.
By now I’m confused and telling her to push the correct button. But it got to be to much of stupidity and I decided to hell with it. I got up and threw the hammock in the garbage. So much for the thirty-year wait.
There are plenty of locals who walk the streets selling hammocks. With a little luck I’ll find one I like someday and try it again. Meanwhile, I’ll just have to sit in the shade on a plastic lawn chair.