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The ease of a hammock is, sometimes, unattainable

Columnist Dan Conradt says looking forward to an afternoon of lemonade and (hopefully) a Twins win took a turn for the sofa.

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I’d decided that Sunday afternoon would be the perfect time; the deck would be shaded by the big maple tree in the back yard, it was going to be 75 degrees and the Twins were playing the Yankees.

The instructions claimed that set-up was easy, but I’d given myself plenty of time because tools and I don’t get along. Set-up turned out to be as easy as promised, and that always makes me wary.

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It was 8:30 Sunday morning.

I considered doing a practice climb-in.

I’d seen enough “funniest home video” shows to know that not everyone gets into a hammock gracefully, and I didn’t want to end up flat on my back, looking up at the underside of my new hammock. With my luck one of the neighbors would catch the whole thing on video and I’d end up as “Fool Falls Out Of Hammock”.

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I decided to wait until just before the first pitch to let the anticipation build.

I made a pitcher of lemonade and put it in the refrigerator to chill.

I vacuumed the living room.

I watched “Meet The Press.”

I washed the dishes and did my laundry.

Finally, the clock over the kitchen sink said it was 12:56. I glanced out the patio doors. The hammock was tucked into the shade of the maple tree, swaying gently back and forth.

Good. A little breeze to keep the bugs away.

But something was niggling at the back of my mind, and it took me a minute to figure out what it was: The hammock was swinging, but the leaves on the big maple were perfectly still.

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That’s when I saw the foot.

A foot! Sticking out of my brand-new, I’m-going-to-break-it-in-with-a-Twins-game-in-nine-minutes hammock!

I threw the screen door open with a bang and a little head popped up from within the folds of the hammock.

“Hi, Dan!” he said. “This is really cool!”

He was one of the neighborhood kids who rode their bikes in my driveway and played hide-and-seek in the back yard. They brought a feeling of youthful energy, and they were always welcome at my house.

Until now.

“Billy. What are you doing?” I sputtered.

“I didn’t know you had a hammock.”

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“It’s new,” I said. “You should have …”

“My grandpa has a hammock,” he said, shifting his weight so he could better see me standing in the doorway. “He says he does his best thinking when he lays in his hammock, but you should hear him snore.” He made a sound that was a cross between a vacuum cleaner and a chainsaw.

“How did you even get in there?” I asked.

“I just climbed in,” he said. “I lifted Sadie in first and …”

“Huh?”

“Sadie. My sister.”

I stepped closer to the hammock, and for the first time I saw the little girl. She might have been 4 years old, and where the hammock sagged under their combined weight she was nestled tightly against her big brother, who had his arm around her shoulder.

She had a halo of blonde hair and looked like an angel.

And she was sound asleep.

“Do you want to lay here? We can leave …” and he started to get up.

“No, I wasn’t going to use it,” I said. “Have fun.”

I let the door close quietly behind me.

The lemonade was chilled perfectly, there were no bugs in the house, and I missed everything after the third inning because I was too busy doing my best thinking.

And I didn’t fall off the couch once.

Dan Conradt, a lifelong Mower County resident, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson.

Related Topics: PEOPLEDAN CONRADT
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