I think of the dog days of summer as covering all of August – that time when life seems to slow down. In years past, people often left town in August, though that’s not so much the case these days with Covid. But August remains a month when life seems more leisurely . . . work recedes . . . meals are simpler (popsicles for lunch, anyone?) and even clothing is lighter.
Well, depending on who you want to believe, the dog days of summer may end next week (I’m not impressed; that reminds me of fall and I’m not ready for sweaters and slippers).
In ancient times, the Romans associated the dog days with the Dog Star, Sirius, which happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. It’s so bright the Romans thought the earth received heat from it. In the summer, Sirius rises and sets with the sun and at one point in July, it actually conjuncts the sun. Considered a particularly potent time, the Roman’s deemed the 20 days before this conjunction and the 20 days after as ‘the dog days of summer.’ That meant the dog days could run anywhere from late July to late August, and that’s still the belief in many European cultures today.
However, nothing stays the same, including the constellations in our sky. Given the precession of the equinoxes (basically the drift of our nighttime constellations) the conjunction of Sirius to our sun takes place earlier. So, these days the Farmer’s Almanac lists the dog days as beginning July 3rd and ending August 11th.
Personally, I’m backing the Romans. Mind you, they also thought the dog days of August was an evil period of time when “the sea boiled, the wine turned sour, dogs grew mad and men were plagued with hysteria.” They were so fearful they generally sacrificed a dog to appease the Gods.
There’s no need for that around here. In my little world, the sea is calm, the wine is crisp and the dogs are happy. Yes, we’re still dealing with Covid and all that the pandemic entails, but somehow during the dog days of August even that doesn’t feel quite as bad as it did a few months ago. Happy August everybody.