August 05, 2002

Dog Days of August

Someone was lamenting the heat yesterday on the local radio, remarkng that we yet had the 'dog days of summer' to get through before we could expect any relief. I asked my son if he knew why they were call 'dog days', he didn't, so maybe it will be 'news' to you too.

The term originated in the Meditteranean region, apparently, where the unhealthy weather of this period was thought to make 'dogs go mad', a time when the brightest star in the heavens, Sirius, the Dog Star, rises concurrently with the sun. The theory was that both stars in the sky all day long was to blame for the build up of heat during this time. Which of course is not the case.

But if the longest day is at the time of the Summer Solstice in late June, why are our hottest days in late July and August?

Because the Earth is a wonderful energy sink, storing heat in the waters and the land masses, finally reaching a maximum for heat storage in late July before the days begin to shorten, and light begins striking a more glancing blow the Earth as it begins to tilt toward winter in the northern hemisphere.

Interesting to think that if the Earth did not move about this tilt of about 23 degrees through the poles, there would be no seasons...(sort of like living in Alabama again).

I went out on the back porch yesterday morning and noticed the white metal chairs were missing. I found them later in the day, over behind the barn, postioned facing the southern sky, down the valley, placed just so for a great view of the Dog Star and its August companions.

My son and his visiting friend had been out in those chairs the night before, under God's heaven, in conversation til the wee hours... not inside, watching a video, playing computer games, or off in a bar somewhere.

Finding those chairs over in the pasture was to me a hopeful sign that maybe our children are unusual, in good ways that matter, because they grew up in the country and because our entertainment has come from the things we were able to find in our back yards and pastures, and the sky above them, right where we live.

Posted by fred1st at August 5, 2002 11:37 AM
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