The dog days of summer

Pastor Ron Burcham, Risen Savior Lutheran Church

Pastor Ron Burcham, Risen Savior Lutheran Church

Pastor Ron Burcham

“Is it hot enough for ya?” Have you noticed no one says that around here? Back in the Midwest, that was a standard conversation starter this time of year. I never really understood it. How was one supposed to respond when it was 88 degrees and 89 percent humidity – “No, I would like it better if it was 95 and 200 percent humidity?” Around here I don’t have to worry about trying to hold back my sarcasm when asked such a ridiculous question. I suppose it’s because we know it’s hot; going to be hot tomorrow and the next day, and for the next two months after that. Even the most desperate who are looking to strike up a little dialog will not ask if it’s hot enough – no, some subjects are best left alone when you live in the desert.

I do have to admit that August is a rather challenging month for us in the valley, at least weather wise. It has been hot for a while and there really is no sign of relief for a couple more months. We have entered the dog days of summer – now there is another interesting expression. What in the world does that mean? I have looked at any number of dogs in August, and they don’t seem to like it any more than we humans. If these are their days, they don’t want them!

Well it turns out that the phrase the dog days of summer has nothing to do with our canine friends; well, at least not directly. It has everything to do with a star. Countries that bordered the Mediterranean Sea originally used the dog days of summer in early times. Evidently there is a star that the Romans called the dies canicularas, or the Dog Star. It seems that when the Dog Star was the brightest, it coincided with hottest time of year, thus the Dog days of Summer.

The Romans also observed that it was during these days that dogs grew mad, and humans became irritable. Hmm…not sure about the dogs today growing mad, but I have noticed at times some irritable people. Some seem a little less patient while driving. I have witnessed more than one individual snap at the person running the register in the grocery store. Neighbors don’t stop and talk, instead they snarl and walk inside.

Perhaps during this particularly hot time of year we would be good to remember these words from the Bible:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)

I believe the dog days of summer would be more like a puppy if we all heeded those words.