It is the time from July through August when Sirius sets and rises with our sun. At least, it did about 700 B.C., when Greek poets spread lore wrought from the constellation Canis Major that the brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere was imagined dragging the sun into the early morning sky, bringing with it all the heat, humidity and accompanying discomfort of the hottest days of the summer season. With time, we have come to understand that the shifting rotation of our planet in proximity to its sun is the culprit. Yet despite our advancing scientific understanding, we assign the “dog days of summer” to the influence of the Dog Star.
For most of us, these long, hot days urge us to remain indoors and keep the air conditioning adjusted to near shivering levels. For others, it signals the impending end of summer vacation and the return to a new year of school. Gone are the days when we imagined this an evil time with boiling oceans, diseased zombies, bad wine and mad dogs. Now, we mostly work to make sure that all remain hydrated and that those at risk can get shelter away from the heat of the day.
Farmers prepare for the coming harvest. Summer resort towns plan for the final weeks of fun. Drivers are reminded to slow down for youngsters at intersections and school zones. And college students across America return to campus. They bring with them hope for a new year, expectation of connecting with old and new friends, and desire to advance in life. Sure, they will have a little fun – perhaps the concerns about cheap drink and zombies are not entirely misplaced – but they will return months from now as better versions of themselves. These “dog days” could be their “best friend.”