The Good Old Summertime
We are a few days past the Summer Solstice, so I thought to myself, “Why not write about summer and pile on what’s already been said?” First, a comment about the solstice. The upside is it has the longest duration of daylight in the year. The downside is that the days have started getting shorter, but you didn’t hear that from me. And, I am done with solstice talk.
Did you know there are over 320 songs with the word summer in the title? Yup. It’s true. The only reason I know is because I was looking for a title for this post and discovered that inconsequential bit of trivia. However, you might be able to drop that little fun fact at a party and impress the heck out of everyone, especially if they have had a pop or two or three.
My intent was to talk about some standout summer experiences, but I decided to drift along with my stream of consciousness. As I floated down stream, I passed a number of summer idioms. You know, those tired old cliches inspired by summer time, such as: summer winds, summer fling, make hay while the sun shines, fresh as a daisy, soak up the sun, etc.
There is one that caught my fancy to the point of needing to know the origin. We frequently refer to the dog days of summer. How did those dog days become such a widespread cultural metaphor?
The “dog days,” we think, were those summer days so devastatingly hot that even dogs would lie around on the asphalt, panting.
Many people today use the phrase to mean something like that, but originally, the phrase actually had nothing to do with dogs, or even with the lazy days of summer. Instead, it turns out, the dog days refer to the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens.
To the Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” occurred around the day when Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun, approximately July 3 through August 11. The dates vary a bit whether using the Gregorian or Julian calendar, but we get the gist.
Greek and Roman astrology connected this time with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck.
I always find it fascinating to learn how common idioms, cliches, metaphors had their origin. Sometimes it makes you wonder how some of the meanings evolved so far from their roots.
I will now continue drifting down stream and wish you much summer fun during these lazy, hazy, crazy days. Soak up some sun. Get your beach on. Enjoy the sun, sand and a drink in your hand. Just don’t forget the broad spectrum SPF sunscreen.