My first hammock was aquired in trade at a flea market at the LSPU Hall in St. John’s Nfld. I exchanged a DC adaptor for it from a blues musician who had picked it up in Mexico during his hippy days. It was of faded navy and white cotton, woven using the Ikat technique. (I also recall selling at that flea market a piece of pottery made by the wife of the local expert in serial killers and a vinyl copy of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells”) The hammock had a good long life – it hung every summer on the veranda of the house I rented in Bauline, where I would swing in the shade reading B. Traven novels until I became mezmerized by the sound of the bumblebees diving for nectar in the crowns of the monkshood by the veranda rail and dozed off.
The hammock moved with me to Nova Scotia. It still hangs in the closet though it is now not safe, given that many of the threads have rotted through. It served me well when the children were small. I considered myself quite talented in that I could clamber into the hammock holding a newborn baby and a pile of snacks and Noddy books, without dumping out the toddler I had already installed. We would lie there in the shade and swing and I would nurse the baby and we would read and feed until everyone fell asleep. One such day I was lying facing the backyard, my son at the other end facing the road, and we made up stories about the things happening on the road which I could not see. “It’s a band, Mommy!” “I don’t hear a band.” “That’s because they’re all asleep!” “Must be Alexander’s Sleepytime Band. Are they wearing their slippers? Do they have their teddies?”
I later went through a phase of hammock swinging in the late fall, wrapped in a sleeping bag and a woolen blanket and hat. I loved to feel the cold air on my face as I snuggled deep into my cocoon with a good book. I even slept all night in a hammock at a campsite at the Lunenburg Folk Festival one August. It was a rare night when there was neither dew nor mosquitoes and I slept so soundly, curled up with the sides of the hammock folded in over the top of me, that in the morning my friend Nancy had to poke me hard to ensure that I was still alive.
These days I reserve hammock swinging for lazy summer afternoons. Now it takes me a lot longer to settle enough to doze; flip the blanket off when the sun comes around to shine on my legs, flip the blanket back on when a cloud passes over, flip the blankets off when I have a hot flash (or as I like to call it, power surge), flip the blanket back when the air becomes chilled by the four o’clock sea breeze. I still burden myself with an armload of accessories: a cold water flask, a Sun magazine, sketch pad and colour pencils, a camera, but they usually end up on the grass beside me as I practice the three D’s of hammockdom. Dozing, dreaming, and drooling. To my left I can see through the gaps in the tangerine honeysuckle and the kiwi vines the hummingbirds flitting amongst the beebalm. To my right is the Mersey River, idling its way along to Liverpool and my beau in his own hammock; swing low sweet Lancelot. Ah, summer.
Bough Whiffen: a dome shaped temporary tent made of boughs.
Hammock: a hanging bed, consisting of a large piece of canvas, netting, etc, suspended by cords at both ends; used especially by sailors on board ship, also in hot climates or seasons on land.
Banana Hammock: defies description.