The “Dog Days of Summer,” are thought to be the hottest during the summer months, July and August, in the Northern Hemisphere.
Our dog Sage enjoying an ice cream cone to ease her, dog days!
I remember my parents talking about it when I was a child, at home. And in Iowa, the damp, sultry days in July and August were miserably oppressive. Summer nights were spent on the porch where there might be a whisper of breeze, if we were lucky.
I seemed everything, and everyone moved in slow motion, and truly our dog would lounge away the day only moving when absolutely necessary, to snap at a fly, or lift his tail to show he was still alive and loved us.
So I thought I’d look up the origin of dog days, and here’s what I found according to Wikipedia.com
The Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the “Dog Star” because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky. The term “Dog Days” was used earlier by the Greeks (see, e.g., Aristotle’s Physics, 199a2).
The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as the sun (heliacal rising), which is no longer true, owing to precession of the equinoxes. The Romans sacrificed a red dog in April to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.
Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time “the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies.” according to Brady’s Clavis Calendaria, 1813.
I knew the Greeks had something to say about the subject.
To me, along the years, dog days meant… clothes that stick to you in the most uncomfortable places, stringy, wet hair at the necks edge, shiny foreheads, damp sheets, laundry that took forever to dry, clumpy sugar and salt, sticky table tops, and clouds of gnats that clung to your body as you waved a hand to disperse the menacing insects.
One particular clammy memory stands out from my past. My husband and I took a trip to California with our then three-year old daughter in the early 70s. We traveled in a two-door, Ford Maverick—no air conditioning in that baby! My daughter’s flushed cheeks and ringlet curls reflected just how hot it was. Of course we knew no different so we had fun in spite of the sweltering temperatures. We were headed to California after all—toward palm trees and ocean breezes!
It’s better now, as we travel about in our climate controlled, incubated capsules of transportation , but we still have to re-enter the outdoor world when we walk from the garage to the car, exit the car to the supermarket, retail store, ball game, or dentist, etc… etc… etc.
So, now that I’m in the midst of the dog days of summer, I’m grateful for the opportunity to escape to the relief of my air conditioned home or car… whenever I want!
Cheer up, fall is only 64 days away… September 23rd to be exact!