Monday, August 8, 2011

The Doldrums

When I was growing up and still in school, I remember the teacher telling us one day about "the doldrums" which were regions north of the equator where the wind seldom blew, often trapping sailors on sail boats for long periods of time.  The doldrums would cause some of them to go insane and they would jump into the ocean and drown rather than stay on the ship and not be able to go anywhere.  The doldrums were not far from the "Horse Latitudes" which was the same condition but they got their name because the sailors would throw their horses overboard rather than jumping overboard themselves. 

The word "doldrums" got into the English language as a word meaning that one is in a funk and not able to feel anything that would make a person get excited about life.  Sometimes the doldrums come about as a result of the weather.  February and August are months of opposite extremes that produce the doldrums in many people.  Few people enjoy either month, except February has the saving grace of containing Valentine's Day which spices things up while August contains nothing, no holidays, nothing to celebrate unless one has a birthday or anniversary and then you can make your own celebration to observe. 

Our very hot summer is producing the doldrums among many people that I know.  Our fair town is a veritable ghost town once people go home from work or on Sunday afternoons and evenings.  Even Saturday afternoons are near ghost town status as most citizens are indoors not daring to venture too far from home lest they feel the effects of the hot, hot summer. 

Someone actually collected the names of special days that individuals or groups invented for August so that there would be some diversion to take our minds off how much we hate August.  So, today is "Sneak some Zucchini on your neighbor's porch" day.  Sounds like a good idea for many parts of the country but in Texas we have such little water that zucchini and most other plants are not growing.  We would welcome zucchini.  You do not have to sneak up on us with it...just hand it over. 

Tomorrow is Book Lovers Day that encourages you to read a book--a good idea anytime but long lazy summer days invite book reading.  Wednesday is National S'mores Day, a day to make and enjoy smores, perhaps with a friend.  Can you make s'mores indoors without leaving your air conditioning or do you actually have to venture outside to do it?  Since we are under a burn ban and cannot build a campfire outdoors legally, then it may be wise to celebrate s'mores eating over the burner on your electric or gas stove inside. 

There are many more holidays that can be found at if you want to know what other days you can celebrate to break the monotony of August and get out of the doldrums.  My dear mother used to quote a Bible verse to us in the summer when we were trying to be lazy.  She always quoted the King James Version of the Bible so it went something like, "Whatsoever your hands find to to, do it with all thy might."  While it was encouraging people finding work to do, it also seemed to encourage obsessive behavior.  I personally wanted to be very lazy in August and do very little (which are legitimate August holidays on Aug. 10 and 15).  One can give in to the doldrums now and then as long as it does not become obsessive in itself.  If so, the very idea of the doldrums does not work. 

I plan to read a book tomorrow and perhaps make a personal s'mores if I get the energy but if not I will just celebrate Lazy Day and Relaxation Day this week and end with National Creamsicle Day on Sunday.  Maybe the easiest way of dealing with the doldrums is just to laugh at them, and laugh at August altogether.  If you make enjoyment a part of your day, then the doldrums have nowhere to live and have to just vanish.  Soon, we hope and pray and envision in our dreams, the heat will give way to a cold front and we can all do the dance of joy and forget about what bugged us about August. 

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