Summer Doldrums

Published 5:30 pm Thursday, September 1, 2011

Have you been in the doldrums?

I certainly was-the more I tried to wind the propeller of my mental energies, the shorter the distance I seemed to be able to go. Then there was that whole rubber band popping me in the head again thing. About mid-morning, the creative juices were getting as dry as, well, the bottom of the little dry creek I used to fish in as a boy.

My get up and go had floated downstream and I had no more orrs with which to retrieve it.

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Or eithers, for that matter-which is particularly challenging if you're a writer.

It was, of course, the perfect time for a vacation.

Children somewhere still have to write about what they did over the summer. And, while I don't have months-long breaks like they do (or Jimmy Stewart's Mr. Hobbs), I am fortunate enough to have had a week. Since I do sort of write on occasion, I figure why not write about this too?

Plus, well, it does fill an assignment.

We didn't go to the Bahamas, visit Yosemite, climb the steps of the Empire State Building, or walk our legs off at Disney World.

No, I often slept later than usual, didn't shave for days on end, played video games with the family, spent an unusually sizeable chunk of time with the afore-noted family in close quarters, and ate too much.

In other words, it was just what I needed.

Still, I didn't stay on the couch the whole time, either. In between packing up and driving to the edge of North Carolina to pick up my daughter (who had spent the previous week with her Oma and Opa in the mountains) and making the drive from our Curdsville home to North Street on Monday after it was over, there was a lot of fun, too.

We went rafting in North Carolina where we enjoyed (?) the standup comedy routine of our guides, dipped our feet in some icy cold water and got drenched on what had to be the coldest day of the summer. And, short on guides, I sort of (what was I thinking?) volunteered to captain the raft and, though it was close-with a crew of family paddlers of the feminine persuasion-no mutiny vote ever actually occurred (at least that I'm aware of) over my raft-steering skills. Let me just say everyone that started the excursion returned.

We also spent a half a day at the North Carolina Zoo, located south of Greensboro. It's a nice zoo that features both an African and American collection of critters-everything from a bison to a rhinoceros-and a lot of walking. And, no, they didn't try to keep me there. Something about me being too exotic of a creature.

When we got home the wife and I set up a tent in the front yard and my ten-year-old and I went camping. It was the first camping trip for my daughter (the wife feels camping should involve a hotel room or such). I fixed some hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill, and by lantern light and the two of us played a board game called Aggravation. Thankfully, there was no aggravation otherwise, though one of our cats apparently liked the lantern and swatted at the side of the tent and clipped me.

I slept on some blankets to the sound of cars going down the highway and was reminded that I'm getting too old to sleep on the ground any more. Still, I think my daughter had a good time sleeping (sort of) under the stars.

Our last hurrah involved a trip to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home outside of Charlottesville. It wasn't raining when we left home, but it was raining a bit on the mountain. As it turns out, it was probably a plus for us since it may have made the tour line shorter. The wife got her collectable thimble, we saw some old stuff, talked with a nice family we know from Farmville that were also visiting and my daughter finally got to view the historical things her reading teacher had told her about.

All in all, the perfect cure for the summer doldrums.

Now, what to do for the fall doldrums.