In the creaky limbs of our family memories, a wide rectangle of gray canvas stretches between two tall and spindly lodgepole pines. It is a simple hammock, slung between the same two trees every year, just a few yards from the front porch of the cabin that my great-grandfather built in Island Park in the 1950s. He farmed potatoes in the summer around the tiny town of Teton, and drove a school bus in the winter. He built this cabin in the forest near the headwaters of the Henry’s Fork to make a family retreat for his three daughters and, over time, for their families. I am part of the fourth generation to come to the cabin. Over the two decades of my growing-up years, it was our family’s destination for every summer vacation, and the hammock was its emblem.
The cabin still stands now, some sixty years later, but most of us visit it much less frequently, as our lives have spread us in different directions and obligations across the map. The hammock is hung less often now, and it’s not even the same hammock, although no one knows when or how the original one finally succumbed to our weight, or if perhaps it just got misplaced when it was tucked away at the end of some summer season.
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