There is nothing quite as serene as being slung between two trees on a bed of nylon woven cloth; the gentle breeze providing a cushioned sway to the beat of the Universe pulse. It is as if all forest dwellers sign a pact with my intelligent hammock to stay away, simply to observe and not to eat.
There has never been a time when I have felt unsafe in my hammock.
Instead it is my rocking haven; as if the Universe has dipped in it’s dimension to cut me out of visible sight altogether. Time is different when I am nestled in here. Consciousness disapparates. No one can see me, I am in my own Unit of Time.
I love sleeping in a hammock, a practice I affectionately refer to as “hammocking”. Not only does it contain a made-up verb form of my favorite object, but it also aligns quite well with my plant-based lifestyle.
I like the idea of me sitting in front of a small piece of dry ham, making it feel even smaller.
Last particular weekend I decided a good bout of hammocking was in the cards. Not even a full day of dark, thundering Saturday storms could stop me from popping over to Aldis after work to grab camping grub for the night.
I left the apartment at 6:30pm on Saturday evening, the car loaded with blankets and books and adventure.
The sky was in post-thunderstorm mode, electrified with bright blossom pinks against deep cobalt blues. One could the steep line between cumulonimbus and sky, illuminated clearly by the setting sun.
My destination was Clinton State Park just outside of Lawrence, KS. Eta: 8:16pm.
I had been a bit nervous by the forecast for the day, calling for “high tumultuous thunderstorms”. But I figured these predictions had been fulfilled already by the gait of storm that had happened throughout the day. Indeed, the frizzy levels of intense humidity rank through the morning air had subdued to allot for a less charged evening.
I was going to hammock whether it was storming or not, but I definitely had a preference.
I pull up into shelter A43 in Campground #3 just as the sun has set, the beautiful golden dusk at it’s height. The shelter is really just a lop-sided picnic table edging against the forest and sprouting a little iron-ringed fireplace.
I park the car and jaunt into the forest merrily, tossing my hammock straps around two perfectly-placed oak trees, and set up the majesty. Just in time, really, because not fifteen minutes later I have to pull out my headlamp in order to see at all.
I wiggle into my Patagonia sweater and thick socks, the temperature now significantly cooler than when I had left Emporia. I grab Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and the avocado and bread I had packed for dinner.
I snuggle into my duvet and pillow that I had laid in the hammock and spend the next two hours eating and reading and swaying; the bugs blissfully staying away (for the most part) from the beam of my headlamp. I fall asleep with my book tucked under one arm and wrapped securely in my blankets.
I don’t stay asleep for long.
An hour later, big frog-sized drops of rain begin to fall through the canopy above me; the cymbals of thunder jolt me awake. The Universe is having a disco party. Flashes of brilliant lightning rake through the sky and the air around me is charged.
The rate at which I am tossing back and forth is that of a mother training for an Ironman and trying to get in some extra strength training with her child.
I stumble out of my hammock in a zombie-state of mentality and begin to gather the books and sweaters and hammock and run to the car.
I shove everything in the trunk and follow it in, just as the fat drops turn into hail and the lightning gets even angrier.
The car was stuffy, but the blast of cold air upon opening the trunk relieved it’s unpleasantness, rendering it a cozy-warm. The temperature outside continues to drop, and the car gets colder.
I am beaming now. This is a proper adventure, this is.
The world is discoing around me as I spread out the duvet in the trunk of my Subaru, the passenger seats folded down allowing me to properly stretch out. I curl up in my covers, safe and sound in this insane Universe.