Geez is it too hot outside right now! I am definitely not a fan of summer, especially the “Dog Days of Summer” which are from July 3 to August 11 and usually are some of the hottest and unbearable days of the season. Believe me, there is nothing appealing about triple-digits temperatures or hellish heat indexes in my opinion.
The “Dog Days” expression does make me think back to my childhood days on the farm though. We would do chores early in the morning before the blistering sun took over. Then we would sit on my grandma’s front porch with a big glass of sun tea, freshly made by the extreme heat of the sun, and we would try to survive the heat wave. I still can see my grandmother with her long-sleeved white cotton shirt wet from sweat and her wide-brimmed sun hat trying to cover as much skin as possible so she wouldn’t burn. Ironically, even with all her precautions, she still had to get skin cancer removed from her nose because of too much sun.
During those hot summer months, my grandpa’s hound dogs would be more lethargic as they laid out under the shade trees trying to catch a breeze during these scorching days. As a child I thought this was surely the reason why they called these days the “Dog Days” of summer. It was simply too hot for even the dogs to want to get up and go do anything and I was right there with them. Ugh this kind of heat was downright oppressive!
However, it wasn’t until I got a little older and the peer pressure to get that golden tan was pushed upon me that I too learned how to worship the sun. Yes, I would lay out for hours in a two-piece and slather on the baby oil with iodine in it until my skin would burn and tan. Today I just shake my head when I think about how silly we are to jeopardize our health for a summer glow. So many people sunbathe to extremes and at great cost to their skin every summer.
Anyway, as I got older I also learned where the “Dog Days” expression really originated from – the stars. Yes, the phrase came from Sirius, the “Dog Star” which is part of the constellation Canis Major, or the Greater Dog. In the summer, Sirius rises and sets with the sun. So back in ancient Roman times, they believed that Sirius was responsible for the extra heat. However, the heat of summer is simply the result of the Earth’s tilt and that tilt allows the Sun’s rays to hit us more directly and for a longer period of time. Hence we have longer and definitely hotter days.
Now that I’m older and hopefully a little wiser, summer days like these are just too doggone hot for my liking. In fact, these sweltering days feel like they are not fit for man or beast in my opinion. Just ask my sweet pitbull, Sterling, who comes barreling through the door after being outside for only a few minutes and plops herself onto the hardwood floor in front of the fan. It’s just too doggone hot!
However, hopefully with a lot of fans and some good ol’ air conditioning, we will manage to make it through the hottest part of this summer. Now mind you, I’m already begging for fall, which is my favorite season of all.
Even though I know we need a little natural vitamin D from the sun, we do not need leatherlooking skin or skin cancer down the road. So, enjoy the morning hours of sunshine and plant your bare feet on the grass or sand to ground yourself as much as possible. However, please use caution during these dog days of summer so you’ll still be around for the next ones and enjoy some sun tea in the shade. Your skin will thank you later for it. I promise.