The Doldrums of August


I’m thankful for the academic calendar that I have lived almost the entirety of my life following – the ebb and flow of the academic year is in various ways comforting and helpful in setting a rhythm to one’s activities.  We are now in the time between the times, as it were – those times being the hubbub of summer research and vacationing, and the frenetic preparations for the upcoming semester that begin in earnest a week or two from now.  This period, perhaps, might be called “The Doldrums of August”.

By that name I don’t intend to imply that this is a period of melancholy or gloom – hardly that!  What I mean is to use it to describe the simple inactivity of this period of the year. Generally here in Northeast Iowa, early August is a period of sticky weather, still air, browning lawns, and bugs flying about (though this year – just last night in fact – we had a whopper of a storm)  It’s a time often that I use to pick up books purchased but never read, and to think broadly about the coming academic year (but not necessarily attempt to get much done about it).  It’s not uncommon for me to pick up a few books at once and start them all (any who know me well know that this is one of my typical traits) while hoping at least to finish one of them before prep work really starts to ramp up in a couple weeks.

This down time is needed, though, I am convinced – and I am indeed thankful for it.  So here I go – Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance (see a great interview of the author here by Steve Inskeep at NPR, and another here by Rod Dreher) is on tap for reading, as is Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition by Robert Harrison (of Stanford University and Entitled Opinions)  I hope actually to complete these so I might offer a few thoughts here on my blog (which desperately needs a kick start).