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Harris Blackwood: Good riddance to the dog days; come on, fall
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

According to astrologists, the dog days of summer are over. I guess I’m glad about that.

The term dog days has to do with the rising of Sirius, which is often referred to as the dog star. It seems that dog days are known for heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, bad luck and mad dogs.

We have had some blistering hot days, but we have had a few rainy spells, not to mention pop-up thunderstorms. Normally, I cut the grass to a low level and don’t have to touch it again for the rest of the summer. This year, it has been green and lush. In fact, I actually planted some grass seed a little late in the spring. I thought it was gone, but I now have some new sprigs of grass popping up around the yard.

There are all sorts of legends and myths about dog days, such as wounds that don’t heal as fast. I don’t know if any of that is true, but it sounds plausible. 

As for lethargy, I have felt a bit lethargic. I haven’t hit a lick at a snake. But then again, I don’t know if I did last year.

Perhaps the scary part is whether or not dog days are a glimpse of what’s to come. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac (by the way, is there a “young” farmer’s almanac?), what happens weatherwise during dog days could tell us what to expect later on.

One old saying is:

Dog Days bright and clear
indicate a happy year.
But when accompanied by rain,
for better times our hopes are vain.

I can remember some of our worst droughts reached their peak during dog days. This year, we have had a fair amount of rain, so we may find out if this saying is correct. I don’t know if the notion of “better times” means bad weather or just bad things to come.

We didn’t have much of a winter last year. I’m told that’s why you see so many trees with the webs of some kind of caterpillar showing up all over the place. There are all kinds of predictions about whether the partially wet summer will give us any more or less color when autumn arrives.

While I have written in this space about living through the summers of my childhood in an non-air conditioned house, I am glad that I didn’t decide that this was the summer that I would try that again. I may not have my doctor’s phone number on speed dial, but you can rest assured that I have the phone number of the air conditioning repairman readily available.

I appreciate the desire of school officials to complete the first semester before they send kids home for Christmas. There is a little sentimental part of me that can remember those last hot and muggy days before school would start back after Labor Day. I don’t know if we really knew they were dog days, but I remember how good it would feel to squirt one another with the water hose or dip your feet in the creek.

According to the calendar, we are now less than a month away from my favorite season: fall. Go faster clock, go faster.


Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.


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