Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Dog Days of Summer

Posted to OGR on 08/01/2010

August is here! The kids are whining “already” and the parents are sighing “at last!” It is just a few weeks before school starts back. The pace of life is beginning to quicken from the “Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer” but the weather is still hot. In my part of the world, we call the hottest part of the summer the “Dog Days.” Do you ever wonder where the term “Dog Days” came from? Well, the Romans associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the "Dog Star" because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as sunrise, which is no longer true, owing to the precession of the equinoxes since Roman days. All I can tell you is that my dogs think it is hot outside and I agree!

This time of year, I am fond of walking around saying “I can’t believe we did not have air conditioning when I was a kid.” I didn’t live in an air-conditioned place until my second year of college. I remember putting an attic fan into my parents’ home with my father and brother. It was a hot day of cutting out the ceiling, framing in the hole, and building a cage with a door that could be lowered to cover the hole during the winter months. Putting that fan in ourselves rather than hiring someone to do it remains strong in my memory. It is hard to imagine work as “making memories” but many of my childhood memories are of doing work with my father and brothers. I may not have enjoyed it at the time but those times are now woven comfortably into my memories and I look back on them fondly. But I digress… When we were finished, we thought we were in heaven with the cool air blowing through the house. I must admit that sometimes I miss the fresh air blowing across my bed while sleeping on a summer night but I don’t miss all the extra cleaning needed to remove the dust and pollen the attic fan drew into the house.

Summertime evenings stand out in my memories; the smell of fresh cut grass, the fireflies winking on and off and the gentle rhythm of the crickets. In Florida, we usually had a late afternoon thunderstorm, so the air was fresh, clean and a little cooler; a nice change of pace after a hot day. There were usually a few “stray” thunderstorms off in the distance, and as the sun sank in the west, distant lightning flashes answered the fireflies intermittent blinking. The storms were so far away that we couldn’t hear the thunder. My father called it “heat lightning.”

One Saturday night in 1953, we all packed into the family car and drove over to the Loews Twin Screen Drive-in over on Normandy Boulevard to see the Walt Disney Movie, “Peter Pan.” I still remember it like it was yesterday. I fell in love with Wendy Darling that night. Oh yes, I also remember that sexy little green outfit of Tinker Bell’s. There was a little “bad girl” in “Tink” that intrigues me even today. The poster for the movie said that “It will live in your heart forever.” That magical summer night sure does!

Copyright 2010 Rick Wrigley

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