Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The View From my Hammock

Looking straight up from my hammock today.

I hung my hammock up today.

I bought my hammock when I was 14 or 15. It's a blue Eagle's Nest backpacking hammock, which stuffs into a tiny sack and has straps that can hang it almost anywhere the two straps can be wrapped around something.

I have a lot of memories in this hammock, and as I lay there in it today, holding one of my daughters and being rocked by my very excited other daughter, those memories started flashing through my mind.

I hung it up in the woods at the Funny Farm to read in. I have more ties to that home and that area than any other place I've ever lived.

I took this hammock to girl's camp in Pennsylvania when I was seventeen. Three little 12-year-olds managed to fall asleep in it.

Luke and I sat sideways in it together that same summer when I went to visit him for a week. So did his brother Ty. And my brother James. We took turns a lot, but I generally had company when it was my turn.

We hung it from the ceiling cross-beam in our student housing my sophomore year of college. On one side was the loft we'd built, with its bean bag chairs tucked up by the vaulted ceilings, and on the other was a 12-foot drop to the hall with a bathroom vanity. The man I would eventually marry spent hours in it while I sat on a beanbag chair and we talked in a mixture of English, Spanish, and Chinese.

I hung it in the backyard of our first apartment, at what we called the "Tetris" house. I was the only one out of the 3 couples living there who ever seemed to venture into the usually-overgrown yard. I spent hours in it one day devouring Juliet Marillier's "Cybele's Secret."

It was amazing to me how strongly those memories came. The leaves I saw above me seemed to mix with the shades, textures, and smells of other leaves, other places. The rocking motion was the same, the smells of nylon and grass and air--and this time I got to share it with my beautiful little girls.

I'm changing constantly, and so is my world; but now and then something like the hammock snags a thread, and it pulls through the fabric of my life, puckering up memories I'd thought forgotten. I'm glad the memories are still there, and that I can tuck them back in and keep adding more memories to that line.

Memories like this one.


  1. Beautiful, Shannon! I LOVE hammocks. My dad had two Mexican string hammocks from his mission that I hung in various places around our yard growing up... they were some of my favorite places to think and dream and read. I have been dying for a hammock lately but have nowhere to hang it that wouldn't most likely pull a fence down on me. ;) Where on EARTH did you live while you were single that you could build a loft and hang a hammock? That is COOL!

    1. I love sitting in hammocks to write, also; I just put a pillow behind my back so I'm propped up a little.

      My sophomore year of college I lived in a great little house called The Lighthouse with 15 other girls. We had a fantastic group, and it was a blast. The ceilings were vaulted, and there was an area over the basement stairs that didn't reach all the way to the ceiling. We put old closet doors over the open joists and made it into extra living space. To get there, we'd climb the kitchen counter, then onto the fridge and up. Many of my best college memories involved the Loft.

    2. No way! I actually looked at the lighthouse for my sophomore year too. We coulda been roommates!

    3. Wow, we could have met an entire two years earlier, haha! That would have been awesome. And you could have enjoyed the hammock. But I'm sure you needed the roommates you ended up with as much as I needed mine. Still, it's a fun thought...


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