I came across a passage in Ivan Turgenev's Virgin Soil that caught my eye this morning. The protagonist Nejdanov, pondering in a letter to a distant friend, assesses the state of relationships with women, especially that of marriage:
Are there really any good-natured women other than stupid ones?
Ouch... bitter stuff, that.
I know in my own case that these words do not ring true, as I am lucky to be married to a terrific woman who is brilliant, practical, and who always has an eye for a good bargain, like the hammock she purchased last fall. We fitted the device with some sturdy synthetic cording rated to handle over twice my bulk, and there the hammock sat for a few weeks, wafting in the summer breeze between a pair of cherry trees.
Now, I have never really been a hammock person, and truth be told: I spent far too many of my first four decades chasing the chimera of material wealth to have seen the value in laying on a hammock on a sunny day. There were always better and more productive ways to be spending a summer day, most of which involved the pursuit of money.
Yet over the past few weeks I have found the time to hammock (I believe this word should also function as a verb, despite what my dictionaries say), and I find the activity quite pleasurable. This evening I started out reading a few dozen pages of a history text on the British East India Company, but found my attention diverted by the avian dramas that took place in the cherry trees between some robins, grackles, blue jays, and cardinals. There appeared to be quite a battle over arboreal rights, and the situation did not resolve itself by the time I ended my hammock session.
Still, had I followed as a younger man the advice of a cynical person like Nejdanov, I might never have married my wife, and would have missed out on this particular moment on this particular hammock. That factor alone should negate the Nejdanov thesis, though I suspect a character like Nejdanov is too full of himself to bother with such lowly pleasures as hammocks, anyway, and he probably would spend his time these days wasting away in some campy home theater seating instead of living as a would-be Russian radical.