Today is the official first day of summer, although some of us have been celebrating the season’s onset since its unofficial opening on Memorial Day. The lyric, Summertime, and the livin’ is easy, made famous in Porgy and Bess, is truth. These precious months do not include over-commercialized holidays to shop for, or major family command-performance dinners. Except for the occasional barbecue and fireworks, it is truly a time of year to relax, enjoy life outdoors, and store a year’s worth of Vitamin D.
We often hear about the “dog days” of summer but do you really know what the expression means? Some people say it signifies hot, humid days “not fit for a dog,” while others suggest it is the weather in which dogs go crazy. I did not realize that the Dog Days of Summer are an actual calendar item, referring to the most oppressive part of summertime between July 3 and August 11 each year. But, what does it have to do with dogs?
I learned by reading the Farmer’s Almanac, that the phrase references the Sun which occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the Dog Star, the brightest star visible from any part of Earth. In the summer, Sirius rises and sets with the Sun. On July 23, specifically, it is one with the Sun, and because the star is so bright, the ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat and added to the Sun’s warmth. They referred to this time as diēs caniculārēs, or “dog days.” Thus, the term Dog Days of Summer came to mean the 20 days before and 20 days after this alignment of Sirius with the Sun.
In my book, every day is a dog day, just ask River. We just came in from a run on the beach. He ran, I walked, in case that was not clear. River is a sprinter so when he is completely exhausted from running and retrieving, he literally drops almost anywhere and sleeps for hours.
Today, on the summer solstice, I am going to take my lead from River. Here are Ten Tips for a Great Summer from the Dog Days.
- Wake with the Dog Star.
- Go directly to the beach.
- Run, walk, play until you are exhausted.
- Nap in a cool spot – on a tile floor or a porch with a breeze.
- Drink lots of water and don’t eat too much during the day.
- Play with your toys (or read a book).
- Repeat from step 2.
- Eat a healthy dinner.
- Relax on the couch with a movie.
- Go to sleep when the Dog Star sets.