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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dog Days of Summer

Hot!  Yes, dear one, these indeed are the Dog Days of Summer, something endured by those living in the northern hemisphere during July and August, and those living under the Southern Cross in January and February.  Endured is probably the correct word to use as these are typically the hottest, driest days of the year, one following, then another, then another until madness approaches.

I may have exaggerated just a bit there, but remember, the Romans, those ancients that, too suffered under the concept of dog days, sacrificed a brown dog to ease the effects of the heat.  The Romans called the brightest star in the heavens Sirius, or Dog Star, and it’s in the constellation Canis Major, meaning, you guessed it, Large Dog.  Ah, but it was the Greeks, according to Aristotle, who coined the term Dog Days.  Ancients believed it was an evil time.  In 1813, a Mr. Brady wrote in “Clavis Calendaria”, “The seas boiled, the wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid …”

Makes one want to sit on the edge of a babbling brook, dangling one’s feet in the cool refreshment of said brook, of course enjoying the rapture of a sprawling leafy tree’s shade, quaffing an intoxicating mixture of liquid pleasures.  The Dog Days of Summer bring on a “state of inactivity, listlessness.”  Oops, that’s the definition of Doldrums.  Must be related, eh?  Only colloquially.

Doldrums also relates to seafaring, particularly in areas near the equator, between the two tropical zones.  Winds are calm, often non-existent, interspersed with squalls, and the gentle trade winds.  Sailing boats and ships have been known to be trapped, dead in the water for days, even weeks, by The Doldrums.

Back in the 19th Century some people were referred to as being a doldrum, that is, a sluggish and slothful person.  That evolved into meaning a state of low spirits, and that evolved into the seafaring colloquialism.  The seafaring doldrums didn’t come into general usage until the mid 19th Century, and was used as the geographic area rather than the state of the ship involved in the calm air.

Well, enough of that.  The blender just mixed up some orange juice and rum, and possibly another ingredient or two, glasses have been removed from the freezer, and the kiddie pool awaits.  Have a great day, read good books, and stay regular.

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