The Merits of Being Suspended

HammockI am in desperate need of a hammock.

Every year, around this time, when we are experiencing the seeming few sunny near-windless days of Wellington spring and summer, I sit in my back garden, cradling a book and thinking, as the sun filters through the leaves of the fig tree, “I must get a hammock.”

The hammock impulse is likely the result of one summer spent teaching horseback riding at a family camp. When I wasn’t mucking out stalls, watching over a circle of walking and trotting youngsters on ponies or spending an evening relaxing in the pubs and Walmart that were the mainstays of twenty-something sanity in a small Midwestern US town, I was reading Boccaccio’s The Decameron in a rather dubious $12 hammock. Sun, breeze and the sometimes lascivious writings of a long-dead Italian; what more could a recent English Literature graduate desire?

As I sit now in my garden, the achingly self-aware work of a post-modernist balanced on my knee, it’s not that I wish to recapture my youthful reading abandon, more that there’s just something pleasant in the gentle suspended sway of the body, hammock-bound, as one’s eyes scan the pages, as one’s fingers grasp the spine.

Liz Gillett

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