In the Arms of Morpheus, Part II

“Had I slept?”

― Samuel Beckett

My post, “In the Arms of Morpheus” (June 1), related how I really enjoy sleep and why we need to, mentally and physically. In the past couple of days, I’ve read two things on Facebook that rekindled memories of the best sleep I’ve ever had. And it wasn’t in a bed.

It was in a hammock.

Almost 50 years ago (wow, has it really been that long?), while in the navy, two of my squadron mates had rented an old house off-base. It was a three bedroom place and they offered me the chance to get out of base housing. I jumped at their offer, it would give me the opportunity to have a break from being encased 24 hours a day in a military environment. The house was furnished, all except for the very small third bedroom, which would be mine. I didn’t want to buy a bed, nor just a mattress for the floor. For whatever reason, I remembered as a boy watching movies where sailors of old slept below decks in hammocks, which swayed back-and-forth with the motion of the ship, and how that had intrigued me. I went to the local military surplus store and bought a cotton canvas sleeping hammock (this was before the days of light-weight synthetics.)

[Now, for you uninitiated, a sleeping hammock differs from your garden variety lounging hammock. Whereas a lounging hammock’s ropes at each end are of a lengh and looped so that the hammock lies flat open – easy to roll off – a sleeping hammock’s, on the other hand, are of a length and looped in a way that the sides of it curl up so as to keep you from falling out. I secured its rope ends to a heavy screw-in hook in a stud on either side of one of the room’s corners, just high enough that my feet touched the floor while sitting up in the hammock – simply swiveling my hind side allowed me to lie down or get out – with the middle somewhat lower than the two ends. There, you have your DYI instructions.]

The beauty of the thing, in a corner (as it was), was that all I need do was reach out to the wall, give a push, and the hammock would sway like a pendulum. I kid you not, I’d be asleep before it stopped moving and would sleep the night through, never needing to toss or turn to get comfortable, and awake in the morning more refreshed than ever before or since in a bed.

Never awakening, tired, wondering, “Had I slept?” Not once for the almost one year I lived there. Sleeping in that hammock.

I now read where hammocks are becoming more popular among the camping set, replacing tents. The benefits are obvious, no dirt nor rocks nor roots nor uneven ground to lie upon, no creepy-crawlers looking to share one’s sleeping bag at night.

And there are hammocks that sleep two. And while the two may start out the night closely side-by-side, there is during the night, of course – given the sagging nature of the beast – a resulting “spooning” of the two.

But when has that ever been a problem?

– Bill


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