After a professor has been granted tenure, they are able to take either a semester or year off from teaching, known as a sabbatical, to further their research on a current project, or to spend time writing on prior research they have gathered.
Two Wittenberg professors are on sabbatical during the fall semester, Professor D’Arcy Fallon and Dr. Cynthia Richards. Here is a preview of what D’Arcy has been working on during the summer months and these first five weeks away from Wittenberg:
“I’ve been in Nova Scotia ten days. I’ve mastered how to lock the front door, learned where to take a free shower, and learned the finer points of separating the trash into garbage, compost, and recyclables. As for the toilet, well, I’m still learning.” – July 16, 2017
As that journal entry from the summer of 2017 attests, I spent nearly two months in a little cabin built on stilts above the Atlantic Ocean without plumbing or running water. I was in Nova Scotia with my two dogs, China and Sebastian, trying to get a running start on my fall sabbatical. I believed that some intensive alone time in a primitive cabin without modern-day distractions would help me get cranking on The Yum Yum Bus, a novel about a creative writing teacher who must negotiate the tricky territory between praise and truth-telling. (It did!)
I had access to electricity, a tiny fridge, and an assortment of lackadaisical space heaters. But there was no TV, no internet, no bathtub, and very spotty phone service. It rained the first three weeks I was there. I wrote in my journal, “Forty-six degrees outside and this place feels like it’s constructed out of Popsicle sticks.”
“Cleaning” the cabin, I accidentally touched a few panes of ancient window glass too vigorously and broke them. At low tide, using a ten-foot ladder, I tried to putty in new panes, only to break those too. I was on a first-name basis with the people at the hardware store. Did I mention it was cold and rainy?
The cabin was located in Vogler’s Cove, on the Atlantic side. I loved living by the tidal clock. My bedroom was located directly above the ocean and I could feel the tide surging in the middle of the night. The sunsets were breathtaking, the morning fog a delight, and the birds and ocean critters afforded non-stop entertainment. It was like watching The Animal Planet nonstop, without commercials. There were lots of challenges, but overcoming them became part of the charm of life at The Black Duck. I mastered using the Incinolet Carefree toilet, which burns solid waste. As for the other kind of waste, a hole in the floor above the ocean sufficed. I thought about re-naming The Black Duck “Camp Commando.” There are many things to be embarrassed about in this world, but going to the bathroom should not be one of them.
Now it’s September in Springfield, Ohio. Did I mention it’s cold and rainy? My office wall at home is covered with three by five cards, taped notes and charts and little phrases are helping me concentrate on The Yum Yum Bus. I have never written a novel before. I am extremely grateful for this time to write and I vow I’ll have a draft of the book finished by the end of December. And if I can’t keep that promise, there’s always Nova Scotia.
Included is an excerpt of some of the work Prof. Fallon has written thus far:
The Vapors: Crescent Beach, Nova Scotia
There were a few moments when the sun burned through the fog and it was actually hot and I thought I might go swimming, but then the fog swirled in. I would not have been surprised to see someone in a trench coat with the collar turned up scurry by. With fog, you never know what you’re getting. Love, romance, lost pets, confessions, old movie stars.
Who walks in the fog? Who are you? The tide is low and the ocean is sighing: fog, fog, fog. Waves roll up on the shore, sandpipers run, kids fly kites, people kiss on the sand dunes, dogs chase sticks. We’re all newborns in the fog: blind, intimate, random, strangers.
Walking in the fog is like opening a birthday present. Unwrap the moment. We’re in a cocoon of mist, swaddled in clouds, diapered in moisture. Maybe it’s the last day of life as we know it. We’re all here, with our dogs and tennis balls, sun screen and bottled water, folding chairs and metal detectors.
Look. Three adolescent girls in bikinis do cartwheels. A grandmother in a fuchsia windbreaker takes photographs. The sweet black lab looks like a sugar donut as he rolls in the sand.
I am a visitor from another country, a pilgrim trying to make a fresh start. Is it here, on the beach? Will you take me in? Fog forgives. It looks the other way. Make me yours.