Just seeing a photo of an outdoor hammock makes my muscles relax and my breathing slow down. And to actually rest in a hammock… in a beautiful place on a warm day… ahhh…
Ever since I learned how to get into a hammock without flopping out onto the ground, I have loved this simple but profound experience. There’s something about the combination of gentle rocking and the sense of being utterly pulled down by gravity yet in midair that I find incomparably peaceful.
I know that many people are fearful of mounting the hammock beast, but trust me: It can be quite simple. You just lower your bottom slowly onto the lengthwise middle of the hammock, holding the sides slightly apart so that you rest in the side-to-side middle, too. Then you slowly raise one leg into the hammock while holding the sides apart, lean your torso back into the hammock, then bring in your other leg when you feel well situated, adjust as necessary—and let go.
Years ago, when I lived at Sea Ranch on the California coast, I had a roofed porch with posts spaced just right for hanging a hammock. On a warm day, I loved to lie out there gazing at the hills or the ocean, gently rocking and losing my cares. But that was many years ago, and I’ve rarely experienced a hammock in over a decade.
Recently, I found myself searching for photos to illustrate the concept of relaxation, and hammocks kept showing up over and over. Finally, my body said, “It’s time to feel that hammock bliss again.” So I went online and did a search for “hammock,” and was unpleasantly surprised at the cost of hammocks on frames.
I kept thinking I didn’t have a good pair of posts to hang one of my string hammocks from, but then I saw something I didn’t know I was looking for: Hammock Tree Straps from L.L. Bean—for just under $30! I have no connection with L.L. Bean, and I will receive nothing from them if you buy these straps. But who knew they were available? So I had to tell you.
Once I knew there was such a thing as Hammock Tree Straps, I realized that two of the fruit trees in my side yard (which the former owner of my house so kindly planted long ago) are just about the right distance apart for a hammock. I bought the straps, located them so as not to chafe the trees, and plan to take them down in winter, so no damage will be done to my fruit trees.
But what I got for that small outlay of cash was a wonderful outdoor magnet in my yard. Because I work at home, any time I need a complete shift in my tension level, I just go out into the yard and surrender to the hammock. The longer I spend gently rocking, looking up at the sky through the lush green leaves, watching the birds, smelling the plant and soils smells, the better I feel. But even 5 minutes in the hammock makes a huge difference in my mood.
I do have to be careful in fruit season, when a falling apple or plum could bonk me on the head—but fortunately plums come in before apples, so I just put my head in the direction of the non-ripe tree and life is good.
If this sounds good to you, look around your house and yard and see if you can put up a hammock, too. If you don’t have supports for a string hammock, spring for one on a frame. It’s a great way to get yourself outdoors, and your body and mind will thank you. Let me know how it goes!