Mindless Pleasures From A Ring, A Line, And A Tree

On Hen Island there is a huge tree near the bunkhouse.  On one of its outstretched limbs a line has been hung.  At the end of the line is an iron ring, hanging from a hook on the trunk of the tree.

The concept is simplicity itself.  You remove the ring from the hook and pitch it out into the open space, trying to get the ring to swing out on the line, return toward the trunk, and land securely in the hook.  Of course, it looks easier than it actually is, and trying to make the right throw, in the right direction, with the right velocity and speed, becomes an exercise in patience and frustration.  But when the key lands on the hook with a satisfying thunk, the feelings of pleasure and achievement are as real as any.

It’s addictive, of course.  And try to walk past it — just try! — when other folks are playing.  You can’t resist the opportunity to take a turn and make your toss, and while you’re waiting kibbutz with your fellow players about the proper direction (should it be toward the laundry line, or the little tree?), the vigor of the toss (you don’t want to be short, you know), whether the ring should be thrown steady or slowly spinning (you can argue for hours about which approach increases your likelihood of success), and countless other fine points, like the coefficient of friction and wind gradients.

You take your turn, endure the close calls, lament the near misses, hoot at the successes, and enjoy yourself immensely as the hours slowly pass.