Last Friday, on the heels of discovering that my flight out of Newark had been canceled due to violent thunderstorms —and that flights the next day were also being canceled in rapid succession—I Googled the phrase “dog days of summer”.
It turns out our ancient forebears coined the phrase “dog days” to describe the stretch of days in late July when Sirius the Dog Star appears at the horizon just before sunrise. To the Greeks and Romans, dog days were associated with fever, war, and general mayhem. In ancient Egypt, the Dog Star would appear just before the commencement of the Nile’s yearly flood season. They regarded Sirius as a “watchdog” heralding of that event.
The way people interpret the notion of dog days has evolved over time. In the 1930’s Noel Coward wrote a popular cabaret song with the lyrics “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”.
My adventures in Newark has convinced me that the ancients were onto something when they blamed Sirius for causing late summer mayhem. After an unscheduled overnight stay in Newark, my husband and I finally boarded a flight that took off between squall lines. We had a grand time over the next couple of days at Gene’s fiftieth high school reunion in upstate New York.
But the night before our return to LA, my phone started blowing up with messages and scrolling alerts. It was the airline—they were reaching out to issue dire warnings about thunderstorms in the city where we were supposed to change flights the next day.
I think Sirius is definitely dogging us this year. I feel like I should sacrifice something and throw him a bone.
How are you spending the dog days of late July and August? Has Sirius caused you any trouble this season?