July 17, 2021
Hot days, the temperature often hitting 90 or more, day after day, June through July. This summer, the summer of ’21, will be a summer to remember.
Unless it’s not.
Unless this summer is an indication of seasons to come, a typical 21st century summer on the East Coast. Wet enough to produce gardens lush with vibrant flowers and abundant vegetables, but too hot (for me) to enjoy the outdoors much of the day. I should ride my bike, great exercise and fun surveying goings-on around town, but too hot (for me) to stay out for long. I venture out early morning or late afternoon, take a walk to nearby stores or along the Boardwalk, work in my garden, sit on my porch and read, greet neighbors and dog-walkers, and savor summer, eagerly anticipated and too soon departed.
These are the dog days of summer.
A weird name – dog days. The origin of the expression, indicating hot, humid, sultry weather, dates back centuries, and refers specifically to the days from July 3rd to August 11th. We can thank the Romans for christening the hottest part of the year dog days. The term refers to Sirius, the ‘dog star’, because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major – Large Dog. The star was so bright in the night sky that the Romans believed it radiated heat.
Sizzling summer days are not a recent phenomenon…
A beastly hot 1950’s summer night – My sister and I, cranky due to the heat, bickered at each other and bitched to Mom and Dad. Dad finally said something like, “Enough!” and stirred from his chair, heat-induced lethargy temporarily forgotten. Grunting and groaning, he moved the TV set, a hulking black and white atop a metal frame, to the back window, facing outside. He urged us outdoors onto the patio and set up lawn chairs facing the TV. We plunked down, still hot and sweaty, and hoped the tiniest of a summer breeze would provide some relief from the relentless heat.
But sweltering summers may be the norm in the future. I wonder – will I still eagerly anticipate the arrival of dog days?
Thank goodness for air conditioning!