So, here is my question. Have you had enough of this Texas heat? Personally, I’m ready for a “Texas cold front” meaning daytime temps stay in the low 90’s. It has been so hot the past few weeks I am almost positive I saw the Devil himself strolling down State Highway 32 and he wasn’t even breaking a sweat!
I think I am like most Texans meaning that after about three months of cool Winter weather (our weather never really qualifies as cold for any significant amount of time), I look forward to Spring and of course, the bluebonnets. But Spring melts away far too quickly giving way to our Texas “hotter than a pepper sprout” Summers!
Don’t get me wrong, Summer is great with lots of backyard pool time, outdoor barbeques, tubing, outdoor concerts at Brookshire’s and road trips with the Jeep top off and the radio blasting. But at some point, it just gets too darn hot to do much of anything at all. Those are the Dog Days of a Texas Summer.
That phrase, Dog Days of Summer, got me to wondering about the origins of the idiom. After some research, I’m can now share my newly acquired knowledge with you.
The term seems to stem from the incredibly bright star known as Sirius. Sirius is also known as…wait for it…The Dog Star because it is part of the constellation, Alpha Canis Majoris (Latin for Greater Dog). Sirius is very bright and quite noticeable when present in the night sky, even to the ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations. And it didn’t take long for Sirius to become associated with certain events and not in a good way. For example, Sirius seemed to be ever present in the skies above Egypt just before the Nile would flood the region. And the Greeks noticed that the presence of Sirius generally coincided with the arrival of extreme heat and frequent and often violent thunderstorms. I told you, not so good.
Even the Romans associated the presence of Sirius with daytime temperatures in the extreme. With Sirius appearing around the later part of July and with the star rising with the sun not long after summer solstice, Romans believed that Sirius provided extra heat to the sun, resulting in sweltering daytime temperatures. Romans referred to these days as dog days.
This in turn became the Dog Days of Summer, a period starting 20 days prior and continuing for 20 day after Sirius aligns with the sun. Officially the Dog Days of Summer start on July 3rd and last until approximately August 11 . However, (and this is my very basic way of explaining science) as the earth tilts on its axis and because the stars “shift” over time (approximately one degree per every 50 years or so) those scorching hot days now arrive mid-August. And over time (a few thousand years give or take) Sirius won’t rise in the summer at all.
But I’m betting our Texas summers will still be doggone hot!