Sunday, 24 January 2016

A Safe Arbour

We've discovered a completely different form of 'suspended animation'.

Ed and I, hanging out.
 Our property is bordered by a stand of native trees which we refer to, somewhat pretentiously, as 'the forest'. A haven for native birds, it is part of a bush corridor which extends from our land into the Tararua foothills.  During the day tui and fantails flit and kereru swoop though its many shadowed branches, while after nightfall it becomes an auditorium for moreporks enthusiastically engaged in their own distinctive form of social media.

Consisting mainly of native totaras and cabbage trees, deep within our own woodland is what we assume to be a rimu which has grown in a remarkably un-tree-like way. Four metres above the ground, the dappled trunk suddenly corners at 45 degrees and then levels out to form a solid horizontal beam, eventually terminating in branches which stretch skywards once again.

This unusual form is a mystery - perhaps the tree's destiny was shaped by a long-gone over-hanging branch, forcing it to elbow its own way out from underneath.  
The drawbacks of rope swings have been highlighted in the news this year, but I have to confess it was the first thing to cross my mind when we discovered this arboreal rafter. But as usual, my wife had a better idea - we were going to make a 'hanging bed'.

Rose's Your Weekend spread - describing how you can make your own hanging bed.
Essentially a slatted wooden bed frame complete with mattress and cushions, we suspend this arrangement from our tree's natural crossbar with a series of ropes connected to each corner. Perching on one end with your feet dangling above the surrounding fern and bracken, you fall gently back and savour the softly rocking motion your manoeuvre has created.

So successfully relaxing is this structure that we defy anyone to remain awake longer than ten minutes without surrendering to its levitating embrace. A view of the forest canopy and patches of sky through the shading upper foliage is a supremely restful sight as your eye lazily traces the graceful contours of the limbs above, and before long the purring company of at least one of our cats is inevitable.

Older trees on either side form a natural chamber around you, and the weight of nature gently enfolds you like a blanket.  Eventually you'll open your eyes again to find that shadows from the leaves branches above you have shifted, indicating the passage of time while you've dozed.

We've recently had a couple of perfectly still, warm evenings, and have spent the night under the arched, protecting arm of our special tree. It's very special waking up in the cool early morning air to the dawn chorus and the first light of a new day glimmering through the overhead leaves and branches.  Obviously not a year-round activity, we intend to make the most of this while summer lasts.

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