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Talking it over -- 7-15-10

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We are now in the dog days of summer. A time when summer is typically at its warmest and activity slows down almost to the point where we become 'dog tired' just doing the simplest task.

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Heat and humidity are at a high level and staying cool in air conditioning is a priority. However, did you know that "Dog Days" actually have more to do with the stars than with weather?

The term "Dog Days" has a history in ancient times, when the stars were studied, named and even connected. Ancient man would connect the stars to form images such as bears, twins, a bull and even dogs. These were then called constellations.

In the dog constellation one of the brightest stars, Sirius, would change its course slightly during late July. The star would rise and set with the sun. Since the star was so bright it was believed that it added heat to the sun's intensity during this time. Therefore the days when the course of Sirius coincided with the sun were termed "Dog Days".

For me dog days have a different meaning. I think about them more in the term of working in the heat. It is usually during these days that just doing simple tasks outdoors bring on a feeling of lethargy. Just working in the garden, mowing the lawn or walking outdoors takes extra effort because the heat and humidity are so great.

I also think about dog days in conjunction with baling hay or straw. As a teenager I helped with these farm duties and didn't mind them too much except when the temps stretched to the nineties and the humidity was close to 100 percent. The only relief was a quick dip in the lake and an ice cold soda pop when the task was done. Even going indoors meant sitting in front of the window fan and waiting for darkness when the breezes would cool.

We really have it better now when it comes to coping with dog days. Nearly every home, vehicle, store and office building has air conditioning. Even some barns, shops and schools have some type of air cooling system. Unless your employment is strictly outside work, you probably spend a good share of the day cooling off or staying cool.

As we spend the next few weeks searching for ways to cool down, just stop and think about winter. Remember the below-zero temps and raw, freezing wind chills that are really not too far away. If this does not help actually lower your body temperature it may work in your mind. It certainly helps me.

I just wish there was a way I could store up some of this heat and let it out in the middle of winter.

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