Thursday, June 16, 2005

Hammock (That's pronounced HAM-mock)


Last week my dad got frustrated and cut down these big, beautiful, tall Chinese elm trees in the backyard of my childhood home. I guess they were too tall for their own good and were threatening the neighbor's garage...? Or something...? They've always had issues with power lines, and I guess that my dad's efforts to keep the limbs away from the wires (which involved him standing the picnic table wearing an WWI army helmet and wielding a chainsaw) took their toll over the years.

The trees were the perfect distance apart for my hammock, which, in a throwback to my regional accent/idiosyncratic pronunciation I always called the HAM-mock (as opposed to "hamm-ick" like normal people). I don't remember how old I was when we got it, but I do know that M!ke Fle!schman came over with his puppy to play in it and the puppy threw up from the rocking the first day we had it. I definitely, definitely did NOT spend time with M!ke Fle!schman after the 5th grade, so I must have been about 8 when we got it.

I dragged it out of the storage shed every year on the first warm day in April and left it up until Halloween, laying in it under blankets once it was technically too cold outside for hammock naps. Countless friends and boyfriends joined me over the years. Kelly and I used to lay head to foot, balancing each other out, which was lovely until one of us had to stand up first. We had a method for swinging that involved each of us hooking one bare foot into the hammock ropes with the other foot on the ground and falling backward together on the count of three.

My dad nailed a piece of plywood into one of the trees with a rusty nail that somehow spun around. He used to nail Indian corncobs onto the plywood, which had the added benefit of feeding squirrels and spinning them around when they jumped on the corn. He called it his "squirrel carousel" which sounds cruel, but I assure you, it was very humane, despite the rusty nail and whatnot.

I was upset when my parents told me after the fact that the trees were gone. Okay, whatever, if they had to be cut down, so be it, but I just wish I could have come home and taken a photo of them first. I can go to Home Depot and buy a metal hammock stand like the one I have here in Stepford, but it won't be the same. This is the longest entry ever, but still... I'm cutting and pasting in "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein.

Goodbye, trees. I'll be home soon, and you'll be stumps. But, as the poem says, you'll always be a quiet place to rest. You always were. :)


Once there was a giving tree who loved a little boy.
And everyday the boy would come to play
Swinging from the branches, sleeping in the shade
Laughing all the summer’s hours away.
And so they love,
Oh, the tree was happy.
Oh, the tree was glad.

But soon the boy grew older and one day he came and said,
"Can you give me some money, tree, to buy something I’ve found?"
"I have no money," said the tree, "Just apples, twigs and leaves."
"But you can take my apples, boy, and sell them in the town."
And so he did and
Oh, the tree was happy.
Oh, the tree was glad.

But soon again the boy came back and he said to the tree,
"I’m now a man and I must have a house that’s all my home."
"I can’t give you a house" he said, "The forest is my house."
"But you may cut my branches off and build yourself a home"
And so he did.
Oh, the tree was happy.
Oh, the tree was glad.

And time went by and the boy came back with sadness in his eyes.
"My life has turned so cold," he says, "and I need sunny days."
"I’ve nothing but my trunk," he says, "But you can cut it down
And build yourself a boat and sail away."
And so he did and
Oh, the tree was happy.
Oh, the tree was glad.

And after years the boy came back, both of them were old.
"I really cannot help you if you ask for another gift."
"I’m nothing but an old stump now. I’m sorry but I’ve nothing more to give"
"I do not need very much now, just a quiet place to rest,"
The boy, he whispered, with a weary smile.
"Well", said the tree, "An old stump is still good for that."
"Come, boy", he said, "Sit down, sit down and rest a while."
And so he did and
Oh, the trees was happy.
Oh, the tree was glad.


shannon said...

Oh, how I love that poem.
And how I love that trees can become so very important to people. The only house we ever lived in for more than three years had giant pine trees in the back, and my brother and his friends used to climb them every single day. My brother would also get stuck at the top of the tree, as it would sway dangerously from his weight, and my mom would climb to the top and get him down. He scratched his cornea on that tree, we pretended to be different people in that how he loved that tree.
I drove through the area a few years ago on my way home, and they've cut all those trees down. I felt like a part of my childhood had been erased from the face of the planet.

kelly said...

Laying in the ham-mock was never as fun without you (this was during my residency at Casa de G@ul). Remember the time we took the baby ducks out back and set them down under the trees to watch them flock together somewhere in the middle of the yard?

Alissa said...

ha. Yeah, I remember that. I also remember napping in the hammock with Bella laying across my tummy.

Chunky Photojournalist Barbie said...

Yeah, I was thinking about the baby ducks and the Bella napping, too. I remember how small Gunner was that day, running around the yard smacking into things because he was still so uncoordinated and puppy-like.

gwen said...

Ham-mock memory time:

I remember lying out there with you (Angie you) once right before I left for college -- you were talking about how much he didn't want to go back to high school and I was talking about how much I didn't want to go away to college. We were lying across it instead of in it, for some reason, and kept rolling toward the middle...

kelly said...

I also remember a time when we were trying to get out but didn't coordinate the execution very well and I did a face-plant in the grass. I also remember a time with Jon, I think, and trying to push him out of the ham-mock. Hee!