Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday's Wanderings: Dog Days of Summer

It's hot! Temperatures are rising all over the country, including here on the Pacific Coast. Our Mid-State Fair begins today, and historically, that's when our temps begin to reach 100 plus degrees.

The Dog Days of Summer...have you ever wondered where this name came from, and what exactly it means? I have, so I did some research and this is what I found:

In Webster's Dictionary, "dog days" are define as the period between early July and early September when the hottest and most sultry temperatures of summer occur in the Northern Hemisphere.  But what does the term really mean and where does it come from?

Long ago, in the ancient times where the beauty of the night skies was not obliterated by artificial lights and smog, the stars were at their brightest. Ancient peoples in different lands drew pictures in the sky by connecting the stars with dots, which is how our present day constellations were born. These pictures, however, were dependent upon the cultures, as each society saw the stars and the images they created differently. The Native Americans saw one picture, the Chinese saw another, the Europeans still another, and so on.

The images they created were of bears, (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), twins, ( Gemini), a bull, (Taurus), and of course, many others including DOGs ( Canis Major and Canis Minor.)

The brightest of all these stars in the night sky is Sirius, also the brightest in the constellation of Canis Major. Sirius is called The Dog Star.  It is so bright that the Ancient Romans thought the earth derived its heat from this star, but of course we've learned through time that this isn't the case.

Anyway, how did the Dog Star come to be associated with the term "Dog days of summer?"  Well, in July this star rises and sets with the sun, and the ancients believed that because it was so bright, during this period of time it added its own heat to the sun, resulting in the hottest and most sultry period of time on earth. So they called this period time, from 20 days before this conjunction to 20 days after, the "Dog Days of Summer." This usually means the Dog Days of Summer range from July 3rd to August 11th.

So this is your astronomical/historical "lesson" in what the Dog Days of summer are, and how they got their name !  But more do these days affect you? Are you more tired during this period of time? Cranky and crotchety? How does your writing go during this time, do you write more, less?  Do you think your creativity sort of "shrinks" up in the heat?

I hate summer! For me, it's a period of sheer isolation. I don't handle the heat at all, so when it's so hot and humid, I hibernate in the house with the a/c on.  Unfortunately, I'm also claustophobic, so being in the house with all the doors and windows closed will drive me up a wall after a while. Consequently, my creativity takes a holiday, but it doesn't take me with it !

How do you handle the Dog Days of Summer?

Until next time,
That's a wrap.


  1. I'm a fall and spring girl. I love in-between temperatures that are not hot, not cold. I find those seasons comfortable. Winter is too cold for me and summer is too hot. I spend most of my time indoors with the AC running. Good thing I'm a writer!

  2. Fall and spring are my favorite seasons, also, but I do love winter. It can never be too cold or too rainy! I can always bundle up and stay warm, but fewer clothes in the summer heat just doesn't work!

  3. I don't know about my creativity shrinking, but my desire to do anything other than find somewhere cool to sit sure does. I've been making myself work in brief spurts so I don't get too frustrated at not getting anything done.

    Bring on fall (or at least some cooler days)!

  4. I'm not sure where you live, Ellen, but if it's anywhere other than the WestCoast, you're probably in the middle of a scorcher right now, at least according to our news. And working in brief spurts is better than not working at all! I'm all for fall..the sooner the better.

  5. I'm in Indiana. The heat indices here have been in the triple digits, most days between 110-115. I think our hottest day was about 120. It'll cool off soon, I'm sure. I hope.

  6. I admit that I love, love, love the heat of summer. I shiver my way through spring, autumn and winter so I refuse to complain about the heat. Oh there are days that it feels too thick and oppressive for even me, but I still love it. I just hunt me up some shade and enjoy the warmth on my skin. Aaaaaah I love Summer.


  7. I love summer too, because my winters last forever, and we have the best summers here where I live. We live really close to the beach, so that's one of our summer activities.

    Really interesting about the dog days. REALLY interesting!

  8. I am happy that you gals love the summer! All the years we lived on the ranch, our summers ran from late May to late September, with weeks of 100-110+ temp, but we had horses to train no matter how hot it was..and no covered arena. You'd think I was accustomed to the heat, but not so..give me cool, wet weather any day!

    Cat, you do live in beautiful country. We were last there about 22 years ago, so I know it's changed a lot, but the beauty is still there.

  9. We had our share of dog days over the past week or two. Glad they've moved on East for now!

  10. I just love a sunny day, whether it's in the spring, summer, winter, or fall. Yes, the heat and humidity are draining, but cool, cloudy, rainy days are draining in their own way too. Sunny days energize me and motivate me to be productive.

  11. Your comments are all interesting, thank you! It is strange how weather affects us all, but in different ways. Well, we have about 20 more Dog Days, according to ancient Rome, so we'll see what happens in our respective geographical areas when August 11th comes...and goes!