The weather turned on its heel for Stampede after the rainy days of June and settled right into the dog days of July. The heat came on with a vengeance June 30 and by July 1 I thought I was truly gonna’ melt at Stampede, clad as I was in a long sleeve Western-shirt, jeans, socks and boots as I scurried around the rodeo arena — whew, it was a cooker!
Ever wondered where the term dog days of summer originated? I did. So, in the way of today — I Googled it and found that the term comes from the ancient Romans who associated the hot summer weather with Sirius (Dog Star) the brightest star in the night sky (Canis Major [Large Dog] constellation).
The dog days were when the star (Sirius) rose just prior to, or simultaneously with sunrise (heliacal rising), a circumstance that no longer occurs due to procession of equinoxes. The Romans, who believed an angry Sirius caused the extreme heat, made an offering in an attempt to ward off that ire by sacrificing a brown dog (heads up out there, brown dogs) at the start of dog days.
Dog days were popularly perceived as an evil time; “the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies.” (Brady’s Clavis Calendaria, 1813) – Wikipedia.
Hmmmn, a few modern comparisons endure!
In the Cariboo, dog days are perfect for making hay, putting up silage or harvesting any other feed crop that may be ripe by this time. Every field you pass likely features a happy farmer just going about his business as the prime conditions has allowed ample opportunity to cut, cure (drying period/varies/type of crop) and harvest (square/round bales, stacks or pit/bag-silage).
Dog-gone good days!
Liz Twan is a rancher and freelance columnist for the Tribune.