Dog Days Of Summer

Sirius Dog StarYes, it is now official, we’ve entered into the dog days of summer, that time when the days are hot and humid — or sultry, if you want to romanticize it.  The days that make a Midwestern gal wish for Autumn and then Winter.

To be blunt, hot air saturated with moisture and I do not agree. I have no energy. I don’t sweat, so I get super-heated and thus, end up nauseous.  I have low blood pressure and the heat/humidity makes me dizzy.

Think of a living in a steam bath, all day — and then stretch it into the nighttime hours — and you’ll get the picture. You can’t hydrate enough to keep up.

I kid you not — I walked outside to get the mail and when I entered the AC-cooled house the less than one minute exposure to the humidity condensed on my skin.

This is the time of the year that ground fog forms in the evening because of the cooler night air (and that is a blessing when it happens – I ain’t holding my breath) hits the warm, moist ground. Very eerie-looking and welcome since the days are like hellaciously hot.

So, I got to thinking, as I often do, where did the term “dog days of summer” originate? Oldest written evidence says Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, in his Physics, in which he explains — everything. The cite is located at 199a2, in case you have a well-thumbed version of the book and want to read, but here’s the quote:

“… but frequent rain in summer we do; nor heat in the dogdays, but only if we have it in winter.

Yeah, I went “huh, also.”  I am fairly sure he was talking about weather patterns.  Aristotle never met a subject he couldn’t discourse upon.

The Romans, of course, stealing from the Greeks as they often did, also made reference to the dog days of summer as hot weather associated with the heliacal rising of Sirius, the Dog Star. (See NASA image above).

Since calendars have changed since the days of early Greeks and Romans, the exact dates have shifted some, but usually dog days of summer are in July and August (July 3 – August 11) in the Northern Hemisphere and January and February in the Southern Hemisphere.

There is some evidence that the Ancient Egyptians also made reference to the hot days occurring around the rise of the Dog Star (they had a glyph for this bright star). Old Sirius got around, it seems, no matter the language or culture.

But I’m betting Aristotle was the first to use dog days and summer in a sentence.  So, we’ll give it to him.

So, now you know.  This knowledge doesn’t make the weather any less hot or humid or miserable, but it’s nice to know that the Ancients also suffered through the dog days just as we do.

How do you handle the dog days?  Me? I stay inside and work on my books. 😉

6 thoughts on “Dog Days Of Summer

  1. Fascinating post, Moni. I love trivia like this. I believe I may be able to one-up my oldest son with this one (we have a constant quirky trivia contest).
    During the dog days, I stay inside as much as possible. I run errands only first thing in the morning, and I spend a ton of time in the pool.

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  2. Pingback: today’s holiday: Dog Days | euzicasa

  3. Well, we have such a short summer that I actually enjoy the hotter days for the most part. Although I like them best when the evenings cool off so that I can sleep LOL. The WORST for me for summer is that I have to carry around a sweater to wear inside. EVERYONE has their A/C set to temps that you could freeze ice I swear. One year I’m going to do a poll and compare winter heat settings to summer A/C settings. I bet I’m the only person who basically have both set to the same mid-range # 🙂

    Great post Monette. I use the term dog-days but never thought to look into where it came from and I love the trivia…

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