Dog Days of Summer

By Mary Nicholson

Here we are, in the Dog Days of Summer.  I think most of us know what that means (hot!), but did you know that term has been around for a long time?  I mean a LONG time, as in ancient Roman!  The term Dog Days refers to the hottest, most sultry days of the summer.  For us, that’s generally July and August.  In the southern hemisphere they would occur during January and February for the most part.  The name comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, the Dog Star, was responsible for the hot weather when it was nearest the sun.

For some reason, I was surprised that this terminology has been with us for so long.  I might have guessed it might have originated with The Old Farmer’s Almanac, first published in 1792.  That answer – in the form of a question – would have gotten the “wrong” beep on Jeopardy.

While we are currently in the midst of a scorching heat wave, it’s not the worst it’s ever been.  In 1988, the temperature reached 127° Fahrenheit in Death Valley, California. Aptly named place, isn’t is?  Even in Indiana, it’s been hotter.  In mid-July of 1901, the mercury rose to 106°.  It wasn’t until a year later that the first modern air-conditioning unit was invented by Willis Haviland Carrier in Buffalo, New York.

Fortunately, today we have a variety of options when it comes to keeping cool.  Going to the public swimming pool was my favorite way to cool off when I was growing up.  We didn’t have an air-conditioned house or car, so that first dip into the water was so refreshing.  The best times, though, were when we could convince Mom that we absolutely needed to cool off further with ice cream from the concession stand.  What a great snack on a hot summer day.  Mom’s favorite treat was a root beer float, and she even shared.  Later on when we moved into town, the ice cream truck came around to our neighborhood in the middle of the afternoon a couple of times a week.  Once in a while – certainly not every time we begged – we were allowed to take advantage of this special delivery.  Yummy coolness!

That was many years ago, but I still like to cool off in a pool.  And ice cream is still a great, summer treat! If you go to the State Fair this year, be sure to stop by the Dairy Bar to cool off with some ice cream!

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