Are we in the dog days yet? If we aren’t, I don’t want to know what it feels like when dog days get here.
Hot? Goodness gracious! What you talking ’bout?
Back in the olden days, before school systems came up with the ill-guided notion that starting school in July would help Johnny learn more, this would be camp meeting week at Salem Campground. I don’t know a lot, but I know that I am glad I am not sleeping in our non-air conditioned tent at camp meeting this week! In the words of Porterdale folk hero Bobby Jack Savage, “Ain’t that right, Georgia?”
Ain’t it, indeed.
Now Bobby Jack Savage is an interesting person. He went to war when his country called and when he came home, he worked hard all his life and served where he was needed in his community. He coached kids and helped with the Boy Scouts and served on the volunteer fire department — and umpired baseball and softball for at least 129 years — or so it seemed. He is good people, and well worth noting, but we were talking about dog days and the summer heat.
I don’t think people know about dog days any longer, no more than they know about blackberry winter and Wildroot Cream Oil. But everybody used to know that the term referred to those hot, humid, sultry days of late July and early August — the most uncomfortable time of year, in other words.
I don’t know if there was ever any truth to it, but my mama and them always claimed that dogs were a lot more apt to be rabid during this time of year, and if you had the misfortune to step on a rusty nail you had to go see Miss Annie Lee Day down at Dr. Mitchell’s office and get a tetanus shot, because everybody knew you were more susceptible to lockjaw during the dog days of August than any other time of year. It was also supposed to be an unlucky period, but I don’t know why.
Now I never gave much thought to why they called them the dog days. I probably assumed it was because it was so hot than even stray dogs would just lie around panting for air, too hot to even chase a rabbit. Turns out that’s not it at all, which ruins my daddy’s favorite summertime joke:
“It’s so hot that I saw a dog chasing a rabbit yesterday and they were both walking.”
Nope. Nothing to do with lazy dogs or lockjaw. According to what I could learn on the internet — you can Google anything, these days — the term goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks and has to do with the star system Sirius, which is particularly bright this time of year. You learn something new every day if you just keep your eyes and ears open.
My daughter and son-in-law, Jenna and Evan, have a sweet, fat, lazy dog named Sirius. Sirius Black. They thought they named him after a Harry Potter character. Won’t they be surprised to learn that his original namesake was said to be the “Brightest Diamond in the Night Sky!”
Well, I don’t know about all that, but I do know a few things about these last two weeks of August.
I know that Elvis died during dog days, and that was certainly bad luck for millions of us. Elvis died on Aug. 16 in 1977. That was 42 years ago. Do you realize that Elvis was only 42 years old, so now he has been dead as long as he was alive — and probably has made lots more money over the past 42 years than he did the first 42.
I also know that it costs a lot more to keep the school house open when it is 98 degrees than in would in, say, October, when lots of them will be closed for “remediation of at-risk students.” (That’s the reason we were told, initially, that we were having these long breaks in the middle of the school year that precipitate having started back so early.)
I know that I miss Elvis.
I know that I seldom go barefoot anymore, so my risk of stepping on a rusty nail and getting lockjaw is about as high for me as being bitten by a rabid dog.
And I know that in two weeks college football will return and pretty soon it will be time to tee it up between the hedges, on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium.
That’s when the real Dawg Days will commence.