by Kyle Albinus
I love my hammock. In fact the company that made my hammock, Byer of Maine, changed the design and my old version is still better. The problem at hand was that there is a beautiful field of grass that didn’t actually have trees to hang my hammock for the night. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of trees around, but the problem with trees is that they block the amazing, panoramic view of the night sky. A view that makes one utter, “I can’t believe how many stars there actually are.” A view that makes the four inch screen on my cell phone seem a tad paltry. I remember camping with a friend’s family once and the amazement on the kids faces when they were told the little blinking lights that moved slow slowly across the sky were actually satellites. Mom later confessed to me that this led to a lot of googling when they returned home and she was forced to learn a few things she didn’t really want, or need to know.
Now you might say to yourself, “No Problem, just sleep out under the stars!” Well, yes, that would be ideal, but this is Florida and I have found, from experience I might add, that sleeping out under the stars in Florida leads to very wet mornings. All that moisture in the air condenses over night and makes anything that is left uncovered wet by sunrise. The trick tonight would be how to make a tent without a tent, but I had an idea how to do it. I’m in the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve, West Track, just east of Zephyrhills, Florida. Down the trail a little lies the NcNeil campground with a stream, pumped ground water and toilets, but I won’t be going that far. The perfect field I just found will be the lodging for this evening, the grass will be the dining room and the starry night sky will be replacing the movie, no electricity needed.
I took my tarp which is actually a painter’s plastic drop cloth from Home Depot, fashioned it with a couple of sticks and some rope into a sort of lean to. I then laid my hammock inside while propping up the mosquito netting using the same sticks, perfect! In goes the sleeping bag, a book that I can’t seem to finish and he lodging is complete! Moving on to the next task, a small fire to place the small grill on and hopefully the steak defrosting in my backpack will be ready for my dusk restaurant reservation.
After a great meal and a little clean up, the next item on the agenda is to reserve my front row seat for the upcoming twilight movie that will be taking place over my head. I reserve my seat by finding a perfect patch of grass and ensuring my backpack will perform its secondary function as a recliner. With all the arrangements made, I settle in to nature’s easy chair and see how many satellites I can spot in one night. A quick glance over at my phone to ensure no LEDs are blinking and the phone is completely turned off, I hate when a cell phone disrupts the movie.
Kyle Albinus is a quality engineer who specializes in overseas manufacturing. When he’s not solving problems on a factory floor in China, he can be found out in the woods watching nature solve it’s own problems.