Hammock heaven arrives 10 years after planting trees

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CEDAR RAPIDS — If patience is the pathway to the pleasure of relaxation, give Dana Sindelar props. For Dana, 40, wanted a hammock in the yard of the century-old northeast Cedar Rapids house she bought 10 years ago. So, she planted a pair of Catalpa trees and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Until, late this summer, for her Sept. 12 birthday, Dana bought a bright green Fair Trade hammock from the Far East. When the $150 hammock arrived, she wrapped nylon ropes around each tree, attached a carabiner (metal loop used in rock climbing) to each set and hung her hammock.

“Holy cow, I figured I’d better do something big for my 40th,” she says.

“I just get to kick back and hang out here. The first night I tested it,” she laughs, “I fell asleep.”

That’s not surprising when you realize Dana isn’t used to relaxing. She doesn’t own a television or sofa. Her front yard is a natural garden with day lilies, sunflowers, milkweeds and butterfly bushes. A wooden fence on either side of the house, separating front and backyards, is decorated with old pans, stove pipes, wheels and other junk she found around the house after she bought it.

Dana grew up in Cedar Rapids, graduated from Washington High School and then the Kansas City Art Institute. She tried to find a job in Washington state, then Chicago, but had no luck. She worked in graphic design at Copy Works until, 11 years ago, she joined J & P Cycles in Anamosa where she designs and lays out catalogs for motorcycle parts.

“I don’t ride, but I like them,” Dana says. “They’re intriguing. They’re beautiful.”

She does, however, ride a bicycle, which she keeps safe in her living room.

“The trails around here are great, holy cow,” she says. “Just like the big cities.”

While Dana can sometimes seem to be a free spirit, she knows life is full of choices and that planning leads to accomplished goals. Preparing for a hammock a decade ago is proof.

“We found these trees. I said, ‘I’m going to plant them on purpose because I want a hammock.’”

Dana dug up one 3-foot tall Catalpa from her neighbor’s yard and the other from a park, eyeballed the distance in her side yard, and planted them. The wait has been worth it.

“I wanted the trees to be strong enough for me and to hold anybody who wanted to test it,” she says, gazing around her peaceful yard.

A squirrel chatters away from high up in a tree as if it knows her.

“Hi, squirrel,” Dana says. “He likes to bark at the dog,” she laughs. “They have a bark off.”

That would be her dog and protector, Cassius Clay, an American Bulldog. “He looks like a boxer,” she says, “but he’s not.”

So the squirrel, her dog, and her cat, Sloppy Joe, can join her at the hammock to relax in days ahead. It’s as if she’s a poster child for The City of Five Seasons. She is taking time to enjoy.


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