Posted July 22’nd 2013:
As we teeter on the edge of the dog days of summer, I bathe in the appreciation that once again I will have survived to see the start of the Days of Sirius. It’s a time that, for me, is a favorite season and time of year. Some like it hot. I do. Simmer my bones at eighty nine or ninety Fahrenheit, and count me happy.
Wikipedia’s expert on such things, writes that the dog days of summer historically marked an evil time, brought on by Sirius, the god of hot. The ancient Romans sacrificed dogs to Sirius, to appease him in order to ward off the blazing heat.
The dog days officially start on July 24’th, and end on August 24’th. These dates mark the old calendar for such things, but recent almanacs place the start date in early July, and the end date in early August. The old Roman “dog days” schedule is more appropriate for the southern United States, as those weeks hold the hottest days of the year for the southlands.
The Wiki description points to Clavis Calendaria, from 1813, and takes a dog days quote from it. I liked it well enough to repeat it here, plus or minus my paraphrase:
"The sea boiled, Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid ... causing to man - burning fevers and hysteria..."
Update August 12th, 2013
As the end of the dog days is less than two weeks away, we might compare this year to last year. I’d reckon that Sirius has given us a break this time around. I’ve yet to consult the local meteorologist for the numbers, but I’m thinking that my walking ritual could tabulate the averages almost as well.
It’s not to say that we haven’t had our share of broiler days hot enough to poach a Londoner. But, this year he’d have been only soft poached. Yesterday, I took my usual walk, cut to four miles in light of the 96 degree heat. Before stepping outside, I availed myself of the umbrella, as per my normal practice. Many days, it has served to deflect the steamy hot breath of Sirius, and on more than a few dog days it has managed to keep my head dry too!
There is a thing I thoroughly enjoy about walking in the midday heat – and yesterday it was my happy fortuity to enjoy this treat, once again. I dropped into a low spot on my path, partially shielded from the breeze. Here the lazy air slowed even more, and I was at once enveloped by the strong scent of flowers and other things, floating along in the hazy slow swirl of the sultry air, and topped off with lingering notes of hot, sublimating pine sap.
The summer’s simmering aromatic delights, the best of nature’s potpourri, had been presented to me … for being the one willing to brave the dog days of summer, and a walk in the midday sun …