Yesterday was 98 degrees, with a heat index that made it feel like it was 102. That’s hot.
We are in the long, sultry, humid days of summer. The dog days have always been associated with uncomfortable heat, unforgiving sun, booming thunderstorms and sidewalks that make you feel like you’re a roast in the oven.
Ancient Romans took note that really hot days occurred with the rising of Sirius, the Dog Star, in the Canis Major constellation. The scientists of the day decided, since it was the brightest star in the heavens, it must be connected to the sun and the sweltering heat. Not true. (In fact, the stars change over time and if we wait another 10,000 years, it will appear in the middle of winter.)
Even so, the “dog days” stuck and it was also noted there was a large increase in rabid dogs during this time. Attacks on humans became common place and the results were anything but pretty. It caused an acute inflammation of the brain, uncontrollable jerking, confusion, a fear of water and ultimately death. Their answer to this? Feed the dogs chicken droppings.
In 1729, a British publication called The Husbandman’s Practice preached that during this time “men should abstain from women” and “take heed of feeding violently” (Who feeds violently?) It also goes on to say, “The heat of the sun is so violent that Men’s bodies at Midnight sweat as at Midday: and if they be hurt, they may be more sick than at any other time, yea very near Dead.” (I think they thought everything was violent.)