But I Did…
Normally, I consider myself a rather rules oriented person. I go into elevators and read the maximum weight limit and stand there silently calculating. Recipes are measured out in ounces on the scale and detergent is leveled off with a knife before the powder goes into the machine. To me, these rules exist for a simple reason: to protect the customer and/or the product from injury. When I got my first hammock it came with very clear warnings: this was a single’s hammock. The weight limit was decided at 150 lbs, which I guess they considered to be a fair weight for a single person. That little piece of information had went into the little storage cabinet in my head and remained untouched for years.
Until the summer of 2011. It was a great summer in Carolina- nice weather overall with steady amounts of rain. That made it ideal for hitting out navigable waterways. A larger river, the Saluda, runs through the capital. It’s a wonderfully variable beast- at low river levels, you can almost walk down the entire river hopping from exposed island to exposed island. At high water levels, it’s a furious rapid that that skills to avoid being consumed whole by white frothing water. At the time, the river’s level was in between the two extremes. The larger islands- the ones that had vegetation- were visible but the water was already lapping hungrily at rock clusters for canoes.
My partner and I had decided to take the canoe out that day, along with a picnic basket and a pair of hammocks. The islands were really large rocks that a few tenacious trees had set root in decades ago and were able to grow large and strong before a dam was built and regular floodings destroyed all sapling’s hope of surviving. Chairs are impossible to use on these rocks as there really isn’t a flat surface for them to sit on. Likewise, sitting on the rocks can be painful or wet. Hammocks really are the way to go. The dog decided he would come as well. (He jumped in the trunk and refused to relent until we stopped trying to take him out of the trunk and back into the house. Happy, he took his seat in the back.)
We put in the river just after the major rapids near the zoo, considering that our beloved pup probably wouldn’t want to try class three rapids. Everything seemed to pack into the canoe well enough, considering that we hadn’t packed for the dog needing space. Our pup hankered himself down in the canoe- chilling out on top of the bag that held our hammocks.
The ride went well, with us even seeing that eagles that nest at the river. We picked out our island for lunch and as soon as we tied the canoe down, the dog jumped out on land. He was rather happy to be on land. And the way his nose kept twitching, I figured he was hungry for lunch as well. The plan at the time was to tie up our hammocks and relax next to each other and eat lunch there. But while I pulled out lunch to make sure it had managed the waterway fine, I heard Red go, “Uh-oh.”
Somehow, someone (not saying it was a thin engineering student with red hair but…) had packed only my single hammock instead of another hammock or even the larger couple’s hammock. In his hands, was only my little sun and moon hammock- the one my mental file cabinet had the very real warning that only 150 pounds should be put in it.
It got put up anyway. I think both of us were trying to figure out how to salvage lunch. Eventually he suggested that maybe we could try to sit on it with our feet firmly on the ground. The idea was the ground would support some of our weight. I relented after staring at the lines tying the hammock to the two trees. We had just spent and half hour getting to this spot, after all.
I decided to get in first since I was the heavier. The tree handled it fine, of course. And then I started at Red, waiting. I moved over a few inches so the weight would be in the center of the hammock. He took this pseudo-squat position and slowly lowered his bum down onto the hammock. The trees creaked and squeaked. But things held still. We looked at each other, giggled- then kissed and laughed. The picnic basket was just a few inches away and I was about to grab a sandwich when I heard Red say, “Stop!”
The dog landed in my lap about ten seconds before my butt landed on the ground. Apparently the hammock was find handling two people’s weight but not a puppy more.