My family spent the weekend in a hammock.  There were other parts too, but basically we were suspended in the air on a web of cord.

It was awesome.

Hammocks are usually vacation worthy, hanging from palm trees on beaches far from real life.  We never had one when I grew up, probably because of all the snow.  I’ve considered buying one over the past few years but we don’t have a good spot to hang one.

Then I helped a friend clean up a rental property.  The renters absconded, leaving a horrible mess behind.  And a hammock stand, with a perfectly serviceable hammock swinging on top. 

“Is this yours?” I asked my friend.  I’d never seen it before, but maybe I missed something.

“No.  Do you want it?”

My eyes lit up with glee—Christmas early.

After two loads of trash and branches and weird plastic blocks getting a ride in the dump, my husband went to pick up the hammock.

Two days later, after realizing how easy it was to assemble and disassemble, we head out to the desert.  Hiking, campfire, stargazing—the whole reason we live in the southwest is for the autumn.

Before it gets dark, the husband sets up the hammock ten or twenty feet away from the fire pit.  It looks funny to have a bit of furniture in the middle of nowhere, nothing but scrub brush and ocotillo cactus with arms like Medusa.

I hate to say it was perfect, because I’m sure it wasn’t.  But with a fire to one side, a chill in the air, and a boy under each arm, I watched the stars.  We snuggled, we shouted for shooting stars.  We speculated about satellites and planes and alien life. 

Things got a little heavy when I switched out and my husband got in with the kids.  Then they talked universe expansion and galaxies and black holes and how the sun will kill us all in a billion years.  That sort of thing stresses me out, but the males in my family eat it up.  So I stared at the flames and moved just a little further away from the serious talk behind me.

I wondered if the hammock would be like so many other things—fleetingly great, then shoved to the back of a closet.  So far, we’re all still in love.  I’ve caught people out there reading in the sunshine, napping, even coloring in chalk nearby. 

There’s something about hanging in a hammock that makes it pretty hard to stress about things.  If I want to yell, I’ve got to sit up.  I can’t see the tasks that need to be done around my house when lying horizontally.

Looking up is something we don’t spend enough time doing.  Whether you gaze at stars, imagine what clouds look like, or just gaze into the blue, there’s a peace that comes along.  The hammock makes me slow down and notice. 

Here in southern Arizona we won’t be getting any snow this winter.  It will get a bit chilly though.  I’ve got the perfect hammock blanket in mind, one we sit on at the beach or park for random picnics.  It is sturdy in the wash, super soft from decades of use.  And big enough to cover at least three people comfortably. 

Our terrier hates the hammock—he’s not so comfortable without feeling a solid surface beneath him.  For the two legged part of our family that suspension is part of the magic.  Carefully climb in, breathe deeply, and just let go.  It seems to work on 6 year olds and 43 year olds alike.