22 July 2013

Dog Days?

Ah, we're deep into "The Dog Days of Summer."
Ever wonder about that phrase? It is attributed to Roman astronomers who believed that the Dog Star, Sirius (yes, that's where J.K. Rowling got the name for Sirius Black), added to the sun's heat to make these summer days more uncomfortable. During those ancient days, Sirius rose and set with the sun. Now the passage of time and movement of the universe has shifted our view of the constellations, so Sirius rises and sets on a little different time schedule, but we still call the latter half of July and first part of August "The Dog Days." In the Northern Hemisphere these tend to be the most uncomfortable weeks of the season with high heat and higher humidity. Everyone is cranky and whiny. Tempers flare from the tiniest sparks. Thunderstorms boom and put on fantastic lightning displays.

Growing up, we had a big old mutt that was terrified of loud noises. Originally meant to be a hunting companion that ran home at the first gunshot, this great big animal would tremble and hide under tables when thunder rumbled in the distance. His name was Skeeter and he was generally considered an ugly canine. Half collie and half German short-haired pointer, he had a huge head and a tiny bob of a tail. He was fearless when strangers came to the door or when wild critters visited in the night. But summer storms sent him into a panic, poor thing.

Me, I love thunderstorms. I love watching the lightning, seeing what patterns the ripple through those heavy black skies. I'm still waiting for a nice thunderstorm at my house this summer. They've skipped over, downing power lines and flooding washes everywhere else in Tucson but here. One could say the storms have been "dogging it" around my place during these dog days, but that would be a different bone to pick.


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