Along the Garden Path: We have the ‘Dogs Days of Summer’


We definitely have hit the Dog Days of Summer – the time period between July 3 and Aug. 11. August is often referred to as the ‘dog days of summer’ which is a subtle suggestion for us to relax during the hot and humid afternoons of these long summer days.

But ‘dog days of summer,’ where did that term come from? The phrase stems from the fact that dogs tend to be sluggish during the hottest days of the summer, just like humans! The term is actually a reference to the fact that during this time, the Sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the brightest star visible from any part of Earth and part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. This is why Sirius is called the Dog Star.

In the summer, Sirius rises and sets with the Sun. On July 23, it is in conjunction with the sun, and because the star is so bright, the ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat and added to the Sun’s warmth. This accounts for a long stretch of sultry weather, referred to as ‘dog days.’

Relief from the heat and humidity is either the beach or pool, in the shower or in the air conditioning. Swimming is a great way to cool off because as we get wet, the water evaporates from our skin, taking heat with it. If we can’t get to a pool or swimming, you can achieve the same results with a shower or bath or just by wetting your hair. Soaking your feet or even running cold water over each of your wrists for 10 seconds can also help.

Your body’s main temperature sensor is located on the back of your neck. If you have long hair, wear it up to let breezes reach this area. If you’re going to sit by a fan, make sure it blows onto the back of your neck. A cool compress over this area will also go a long way to helping you feel cooler.

Rub on some peppermint lotion. The menthol will stimulate your nerves and trick your body into thinking you’re cooler that you are.

Rub a slice of chilled cucumber over your face. The thick juice will take longer to evaporate than water, for extended refreshment. Snacking on frozen melon cubes or berries is also smart way to cool down. We even like frozen grapes.

Stay hydrated by sipping from a water bottle throughout the day. Aim for at least a half-gallon over the course of the day. If you sweat a lot, drink a sports drink to replace lost electrolytes. Add a few mint leaves for a super-cooling treat. Just avoid excess caffeine or alcohol, which can dehydrate you.

Try foods such as mushrooms, citrus fruit, lemon balm or mint to help your body regulate its temperature and keep you cooler. Stay clear of spicy foods that cause you to sweat more.

But, in all of this hot weather, don’t neglect your garden. Plan to attack your garden chores in the early part of the days or the late parts of your already hectic days.

Try a cold lemonade – make some homemade ice cream or a cold slushy. Fall is just around the corner!

By Charlene Thornhill

Along the Garden Path

Charlene Thornhill is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her community column Along the Garden Path. She can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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