I celebrated Labor Day this year by trying to fall asleep in my hammock. It helped that I didn't sleep well the night before and was ready for a nap around 11 that morning. So, I positioned the hammock on my back deck--half in the sun and half in the shade--and climbed in.
The hammock is a Brazilian-style hammock--large and made of light cotton canvas. I grew up with the Pawley's Island kind of hammock, but there was always one twist in the rope that hit an elbow or shoulder just the wrong way and made it difficult to relax. My new hammock has a soporific design. Or at least I thought so.
After about ten minutes of resting with my eyes closed, I realized I wasn't asleep. I brought out a pillow and tried again. I breathed deeply and imagined myself in a yoga class during the final relaxation. My wakefulness would not abandon me so I spent the next hour opening my eyes and then closing them in the slowest, laziest way I could. My feet were warm in the sun yet I could feel the cool early-fall breeze blowing over them, stirring the wind chimes I had hung from the hammock.
A line came to mind from Second Harvest, a dreamy little book written in 1930 by Jean Giono: "He had stretched out his bare feet in the warmth and was amusing himself by wiggling his toes."
Stretched out in my hammock, I wiggled my toes. The universe became very, very small.
A big-bodied dragonfly hovered near the end of the hammock and then darted away toward the edge of my yard where it hovered, turned, and flew back toward me again.
The flies and bees were buzzing in the planter boxes on the deck. I could hear the difference in their buzzes.
My feeder was full of chirpy little birds--chickadees and nuthatches mostly.
Behind a brightly illuminated leaf from a shrub in the yard I saw the complete silhouette of an insect on the other side of the leaf.
I closed my eyes and watched the bright spots of light dancing on the inside of my eye lids. A small scratching noise came from beneath the hammock--likely a junco or chickadee searching for seeds scattered from the feeder nearby.
The Douglas-fir was dropping it's small, brown needles like a light snow. One landed on my shoulder.
I opened my eyes. The dragon fly kept up its back-and-forth, getting inches closer to me each time. I wondered if he was curious about my necklace--a small, silver, diamond-studded dragonfly. Was it a potential mate?
The wind chimes played three of its six notes.
Small ragged clouds--cumulus fractus--floated past.
The sun moved behind the roof peak of my house. My feet cooled in the shade. I shifted to keep them in the sun and then wiggled them, amused and happy to be awake.
UPDATE Labor Day 2015: What I didn't tell you four years ago:
The space between my hammock and the cloud shrank. It was not because the clouds were lowering, but because it seemed I was being levitated—not literally, not physically, but metaphysically—toward the cloud. It was as if my mind traveled along an invisible pathway between my eyes and the cloud, and the cells in my body followed. It felt as if I was seeing the cloud with my whole body. There was nothing between me and the cloud's slow pace, its weightlessness, it's delicate expanding and contracting as if it were breathing. I started to feel as though I was the cloud. I distrust "woo-woo," but to paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh,this felt more like science than poetry.