Jewish World Review July 23, 2004 / 5 Menachem-Av, 5764

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Family members hold sway over hammock | I know a woman who routinely tells friends and strangers that her son wears size 14 shoes. I never know whether to say "Congratulations" or "I'm sorry."

I have my own announcement capable of evoking a similar mixed response: We have worn out a hammock. I don't know whether to be proud or ashamed.

On one hand, the one driven to multi-task and hammer on a computer keyboard, maybe we should be ashamed that so much lounging has been going on around here. On the other hand, the one comfortable holding a bottle of nail polish and reaching for more ice cubes for my lemonade, maybe we should be proud of rebelling against the rat race.

Our old hammock lasted five years. The saddest part of this story is that the new one may not last through the end of the week. The competition for rest and relaxation has grown positively fierce.

The old hammock was anchored to two towering white pine trees. You rarely caught the sun, always felt a slight chill and were justifiably on edge because of birds perched directly overhead.

The new hammock came with a stand. You can drag it across the yard and follow the sun the entire afternoon. You can pull it under a maple tree when the heat is sizzling or push it into the middle of the yard at night to watch the moon rise and find the Big Dipper. The hammock and the stand are immensely popular, thereby posing an inherent problem — access.

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Initially, people began claiming time in the hammock using the Survival of the Fittest Method. This was a shame, as it ended with the hammock swinging wildly and people making a thud as they rolled onto the ground. Somehow, all the bumping and bruising seemed a violation of the very nature of a hammock.

Next, some bright bulb posted a sign-up sheet like they use for the machines at the gym. You initial your half-hour block of time, and if you're not there to claim your machine, or hammock in this case, the next guy in line gets your spot.

This lasted for all of one day as unnamed parties abused the system. They signed up for hours and hours, days in advance, and then attempted to barter those time slots for household chores with other family members. I cannot tolerate any close-knit group of people operating on principles of bribery — not even during an election year.

In a moment of desperation, I tried to ace out the competition by banning electronics from the hammock: no cell phones, portables, laptops or CD players. That backfired the first time one of them stuck their head out the kitchen window and yelled, "Mom, phone!" As I sprinted into the house, two of them sprinted out.

A hammock lazily suspended between now and forever is a natural attraction. A hammock can teach marvelous lessons like how to ignore the phone, the buzzer on the dryer and that long to-do list. A hammock teaches you the bliss of the breeze, the beauty of the clouds and the pleasure of quiet.

There's a lot to be said for softly swinging back and forth, back and forth.

There's also something to be said when that simple sway is halted by certain family members who also cast long, dark shadows over your paperback book: "Kids, let go of the hammock. Maybe you hadn't noticed, but your mother is a natural born swinger."

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Pass the Faith, Please" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.


© 2004, Lori Borgman