The Joys of a Hammock

hammockTwenty years ago, the hub and I were on the beach in Key West, taking a short walk after a wonderful lunch at the Casa Marina. Ahead of us, under the palms, we spotted a cluster of arc-shaped teak hammock stands, with enticing quilted hammocks swinging in the breeze.

Now, we knew that we loved the beach. And I knew that a hammock on the beach would keep my cute shoes clean (we had just gone to lunch, remember, and I had really nice shoes on for our “fancy day out”). But as a general rule, I didn’t like hammocks. I didn’t like the cheap metal stands that always were rusted, and I didn’t like the feeling of hammock strings burrowing into my skin. But these hammocks weren’t like that. These looked like hammocks you could sleep in, and wake up without the tell-tale web marks on your legs.

We talked to the manager at the hotel, and found their secret source. We went home and immediately ordered a stand and hammock for ourselves. It was not much less than our mortgage payment at the time, but totally worth it.

So it was pretty much a given that when we bought a bed and breakfast we were going to have a hammock somewhere, even if we had to hang it over a sidewalk.

Luckily, the Bayfront Marin House has a great outdoor space. Perfect, in fact, for hammocks.

As it turns out, lots of people love hammocks like we do. We’ve had people just walking by the inn ask if they could get in ours for a minute or two (note: we let folks do that, as long as there aren’t any guests waiting to use it!) A few weeks ago, a young man began crying as his mother pulled him down the sidewalk. “I want to stay there!” he yelled.

I’m not going to lie: that’s kind of the reaction that we’re going for.

What’s so great about a hammock? Here are some of my favorite things:

1. The gentle swaying slows your heart rate. Lay in a hammock for a few minutes, and you’ll feel yourself breathing more deeply. You’ll feel your eyes getting heavy. You’ll feel…well, I need to stop here lest I fall asleep while I’m writing.
2. No one can get into or out of a hammock gracefully. I know that there are some people who find this a minus, instead of a plus. But think about it–we’re all pretty evenly matched when it comes to hammock dismounts. It’s hard not to laugh while trying. And I’m a big believer that laughing at yourself is good for you, not to mention the people around you.
We actually try to help folks out by having chains attached to the bottom of our hammock. They still let the hammock sway, but they make it a little more safe to get in and out. (Which is a bonus: we actually added them as a safety measure for the young ones who seem to think that the hammock is a miniature pirate ship at the amusement park–going up higher and higher until it makes a complete revolution around. But grown ups seem to like the added stability).
3. The view. You can look straight up without getting dizzy. The view is even better if there is something beautiful above you, like clouds and blue sky, or the canopy of a tree, or the sparse umbrella of a palm tree. I read a study somewhere that said that being in nature is good for your creativity. Most hammocks–even those next to a big building–offer a great view of nature. Which lets you think up creative ways to stay in the hammock, and not do any work for an hour or so.
4. If you are lucky enough to have a partner crawl laughing into the hammock with you, the hammock’s shape will roll you towards the middle, and closer to each other. Isn’t that why you went on vacation in the first place, to get closer to your partner?

If you have a hammock, I highly recommend you go outside and take a short nap. It’s like a mini vacation, every time you climb into its welcoming cradle!

(We’ve had some great photos taken in our hammock. Feel free to share yours in the comments!)