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The Dog Days of Summer

By Lori Welch Brown

The Dog Days of Summer

Little known fact—the dog days of summer don’t have to do with an actual dog, but rather a star, Sirius.

Per The Farmer’s Almanac, the dog days of summer refer to the 20 days before and the 20 days after Sirius’ alignment with the Sun, thought to be the hottest days of summer.  “The phrase is actually a reference to the fact that, during this time, the Sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the brightest star visible from any part of Earth and part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog.  This is why Sirius is sometimes called the Dog Star.”

The time on the calendar is July 3 through August 11. So, it is on July 23 that Sirius is in alignment with the sun.

As a kid, the dog days of summer seemed to last f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  The newness of ‘school is out for summer’ had worn off.  The luster of being dropped off at the community pool had faded.  The family vacation had come and gone, the only reminder being a flip flop key chain and some Kodak prints courtesy of the film developing crew at Peoples Drug. The dread of back-to-school shopping at Sears Roebuck loomed heavily.  It was hot and the grownups were cranky.

Fast forward a few decades, and it’s still hot and the grownups remain cranky.

If it wasn’t so dang hot, we could hug each other.  At least we have that—remember last summer when, because of COVID-19, we couldn’t even hug?  Pools were closed.  Roller coasters were off limits.  We were pretty much restricted to our own back yards—just like when I was a kid.  The closest we got to a roller coaster was riding the highs and lows of our own anxiety.  The closest thing to an ocean was riding the changing tides of information and opinions.

Turns out, the dog days of summer aren’t so bad after all.  And hey, isn’t it good to know that there’s a start and an end to the oppressive heat and humidity?  Now you can plan accordingly.  Find a nice air conditioned spot and park it.  Or, immerse yourself in a pool.  Relax and enjoy.

This year, we are free to spread our beach blankets out and dip our toes into the sand.  Life is good.

I’m a lot less cranky when I have more options and the anxiety level is ratcheted down a bit.  Granted, COVID-19 tested our resilience and taught us all to be grateful for the little things in life such as meal deliveries and Amazon Prime, but this year, the world is our oyster.  And we can actually go out and shuck them next to 128 of our closest friends.

Yes, it’s hot.  And humid.  My hair is a hot mess, but frankly, I don’t care.  Summer is here, and I plan to enjoy this one as much as possible.  I’m eating the ice cream, catching a wave or two, and celebrating the dog days of summer any way I can because who knows what tomorrow brings.

When I start to feel hot and cranky, I’m going to blast some Beach Boys and think of all the fun options I have that were off the table last year.  I can stroll into the public library to select some fun, summer reads.  I can go into a store and try on swim suits.  I can attend a summer concert or go see a movie.  I can find an air-conditioned cafe that still has public seating and grab a coffee with my bestie.  How joyous!

There’s no need to be bored or cranky or hot during the dog days of summer.  Grab your dog or a hot dog and get out there and soak up some sun.  Hug some strangers.  Adopt a pooch.  Shake things up and live it up because before you know it, it will be time to pull out our sweaters and boots and/or hit the books again.  The cat days of fall will be upon us.

What?  The cat days of fall isn’t a thing?   Why isn’t it the cat days of fall?  Why is it always about the dogs?  Isn’t there a cat star?  Can we get a cat star?  Anyone?  The cats are peeved and annoyed yet again.

Enjoy the dog days of summer.  Don’t skimp on the SPF or the ice cream!

If you would like to read more of Lori’s work, follow her on Medium at Lori Welch Br

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