I was born a rural girl… I grew up on an island in between two small Pennsylvania rivers, surrounded by houses that my grandmother’s uncles built to house their families while they ran coal barges up and down the waterways. It had changed quite a bit by the time I was a child and teen but there was some of that same tenor to the days as my great-uncles probably enjoyed.
When it got light, one woke up; when it got dark, one went to bed. In the winter, one wore heavy clothes and played in the snow; when it was August, one laid around in whatever shade one could find. The Dog Days of Summer.
I must say that I didn’t know exactly what that meant – but it had something to do with the 3 H’s: hot, humid, hazy! And exhausted laziness! I remember trying to find some breeze coming in the windows at night and being unable to sleep because of the heat, making the daytime heat even harder to bear.
What I don’t remember is my mother ever being as downright irritable as I must say I am this August! How did she, with no air conditioning and no help with housework, keep from barking at everyone around her? (I know… bad pun!)
Well, it may be any of the 3 H’s – it was 107F with the heat index a few hours ago – but today I finally had to know what “Dog Days” means. Is it about dogs lying in the shade or barking angrily? No. It’s about a star – Sirius – the Dog Star that, in the Mediterranean, appears on the horizon just before the sun rises.
Or should I say, “appeared” – it isn’t in the same position today that it was when Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used the phrase. In fact, what we consider to be the Dog Days (late July through early August) haven’t been and won’t always be in the same season! 13,000 years from now, according to National Geographic, people will be saying the Dog Days of Winter!
So where does all this take me? Well, as I continue to ponder all the mess we’re in politically and culturally, I’ve determined that the first thing I have to admit is that I don’t know much! I don’t have a chance of making any kind of difference until I step back from that confident assurance that Dog Days are and always will be hot! There is some truth that they are hot today and will probably always be hot in my lifetime – but for someone else, my “knowledge” will seem very flawed.
There’s three other steps I know I have to take – I’m laying them out in a sermon on August 28th at Judson Memorial Church. Drop by if you’re in the neighborhood! Or check this site again; I’m sure they’ll find their way here, sooner or later!
Meanwhile, blessings from hot, humid, and hazy NYC! (I’ve changed my picture to one of NYC on a beautiful clear day just to remind me!)