By Norris Chambers

             In the old days before air conditioning it was customary to move the beds outside for the summer. Usually the temperature was pleasant at night and there might even be a little breeze to add to the comfort of a nice sleep. We were always anxious to get outside as soon as the weather was acceptable. The full moon was always a pleasant period for the outside sleepers. The added light enabled us to see what was going on for several hundred feet and gave us a feeling of security.

            Clifton and I, as in most circumstances, were always trying to somehow make improvements. We thought that a swinging bed from one of the big trees on the south side of the house might be something interesting to experiment with. The plans that we decided on were quite simple. We would build a frame the same size as a double bed and use regular bed springs for the mattress and sheets. We would suspend it with four wires tied to the tree branches above and hang it about four feet from the ground. This would be about the right height to climb on without a ladder.

            The construction was pretty simple. We made a frame from 2X6 boards with 2X4s inside the frames bottom. This and some 1X4 slats provided a nice, tight support for the bed springs. Supporting the frame with four smooth, twisted fence wires completed the project and we waited patiently for bed time.

            We were convinced that the new bed was a success. It swayed pleasantly in the breeze when there was one and provided all the comforts of a regular bed. We enjoyed a few nights of pleasant sleep.

            I awoke suddenly one night. I aware of a loud scratching, rumbling sound that reminded me of a hog eating hard corn off the cob. I was trying desperately to determine what I was hearing and it soon became apparent to me that the sound was inside my head and was accompanied by an irritating pain in my right ear. I woke Clifton and told him my head felt like a wild bull was having a field day in my ear.

             I managed to get out of the bed and headed toward the other side of the house where my dad and mother were sleeping. Clifton was trailing behind me, apparently a little confused about what was happening. My dad was soon awake and anxious to find out what the problem was.

            Its in my ear! I quickly explained. It sounds like a rough and tumble free-for-all in my ear. I was holding my ear and probably making as much noise as the intruder in my head.

            He crawled out of bed and pulled on his overalls and suggested that we go inside where we could see what the problem was. We hurried into the kitchen and managed to get a lamp lit. I sat down on a bench at the table and laid my head flat with the right ear up.

            I dont see anything, he said as he held the old kerosene lamp as close as he could get it without burning me. Just hold still and I will see if we can float it out.

            Clifton stood by with a confused look on his face while my dad took a small measuring cup and began pouring a stream of water in my ear. It wasnt a pleasant feeling at all as the water trickled into my ear but the shuffling and stomping stopped and there was just the unpleasant feeling of the water against my ear drum.

            I see it! my dad remarked. Its just an ant. Its swimming out. Does that feel better? It did feel a lot better. I raised my head and began shaking the water out. We never knew where the ant went.

            We went back to the bed and were soon asleep. The ant episode made me wonder about the wisdom of sleeping under the tree. When we saw a scorpion sunning on the top sheet the next night we decided to go back to a conventional bed and abandon our swinging bedroom. We untied the fame and laid it on two saw horses. This was about the right height and we continued to use it for the rest of the summer.

            The only problem we encountered with this arrangement was that every time we needed the saw horses we had to remove the bed. We talked about putting legs on our 2X6 frame, but never had time to do it. I guess the bed material was used in some other project before it was needed for another summer.

            Did we have fun sleeping in the tree bed? I guess we had a little fun but getting a bug in your ear is certainly not a fun thing. After all these years I still remember the terrible noise and discomfort that one little ant caused by crawling in my ear!

            My recommendation is that you avoid a bug in your ear at all times.


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