It’s early August, well into the ‘dog days of summer’, a period considered to start early in July and run through the first third of this month.
The expression comes from long roots in history, attributed to the ancient Romans. They associated the hottest, most humid days of summer with Sirius, the ‘dog star’, leading to the adage of ‘dog days’.
As many world citizens can attest, we are collectively enduring records’ challenging levels of dog days reality this year.
Yours truly, in eastern Canada, cannot recall as oppressive a month of July as we have just concluded. Of course, there are those on the public airwaves – often spouting comfortably in air-conditioned surroundings – who tut, tut any suggestion of complaining about the intense heat, as though it would be ingratitude for the temperature swing from the depths of winter. However, even they, if pressed, will concede the extent of this weather extreme is more debilitating in the dog day weeks.
Which gives one pause to reflect on the legitimacy of continuing to put the weight of the seasonal weather on the backs of dogs.
Many are the reasons why, and circumstances where, the expression ‘dog is man’s best friend’ (of course, man equating to people) applies. So, if that’s the case, perhaps it’s time to modernize the Romans’ context. Considering how popular is fantasy-based entertainment, and its surrounding culture, with the rise in weather severity perhaps we could recognize ‘Jurassic days’ or ‘Medieval Knightly days’ of summer. To someone unaware of the original catch-phrase, it might be easier to connect the sentiment. Meanwhile, we could just leave ‘dog days’ to represent kindler, gentler times, such as longer, more leisurely evening walks with the family wet-nosed companion.
There don’t seem to be expressions coverings parts of other seasons which are as ingrained as summer’s ‘dog days’. What could qualify as comparable descriptions applying to slices of spring, autumn, or winter?
If we keep to the theme of fauna, ‘bear days’ could apply to any of them: coming out of hibernation in the spring, going back to hibernation in the fall, and the ‘bear’ of cold, mid-winter weather. Of course, only one season should adopt and bear this moniker.
Other candidates could include:
- ‘bird’s nest days of spring’
- ‘pigeon dropping days of spring’
- ‘wild turkey times of fall’
- ‘frog croaking days of autumn’
- ‘white hare raising days of winter’
- ‘wolf call nights of winter’
So, then, where does the crusading trail of ‘dog days’ take us?
Should we follow wherever the days go with a sense of destination, as in the times of pioneers?
Or, should we remove the leashes and collars, and look for new ways to express calendar milestones related to Mother Nature, replete with her increasingly dramatic, atmospheric powers?
If we have time to ponder optional expressions, we should look for other ways to engage our time. Even if creativity wilts under the heat of the dog days of summer.
A la prochaine fois…