Friday, August 14, 2020

Dog Days

Even without Covid, there has always been something about early August. My mother called this time of year Dog Days. Eastern Kansas, where I grew up, was impossibly hot during Dog Days.

Before air conditioning, life stopped. Not dead still.--there were still chores and rituals. Chickens to water, cows to milk, and that ever-blooming garden! Air didn't move during sleepless summer nights. Only fans provided some relief.

An overwhelming lethargy hung over life. My sister and I weren't allowed to go swimming. Not just due to the heat, but as nearly as I can recall, Mom believed there was an increased chance of contracting polio during Dog Days.

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, "in ancient Greece and Rome, the Dog Days were believed to be a time of drought, bad luck, and unrest, when dogs and men alike would be driven mad by the extreme heat."

Other sites mention a time of increased infections, strokes, and sudden thunderstorms.

The Almanac again: "This period of sweltering weather coincides with the year’s heliacal (meaning “at sunrise”) rising of Sirius, the Dog Star. Sirius is part of the constellation Canis Majoris—the “Greater Dog”—which is where Sirius gets its canine nickname, as well as its official name, Alpha Canis Majoris. Not including our own Sun, Sirius is the brightest star in the sky."

There was light at the end of the tunnel. My sister and I knew that if we made it through Dog Days, it would cool off. And there was the ultimate prize at the end; we got to start school. Schools had a distinctive odor. Floors were re-waxed during the summer and chalk dust was as alluring as perfume. There were brand new pencils and Big Chief tablets and erasers and our very own desks in which to store everything.

I was in Walmarts a couple of days ago and teared up over the aisles of school supplies. Who would buy them now? What would they do with the excess merchandise? I was suddenly overwhelmed with the awareness of all the bewildered, disappointed children who no longer will have a positive end to Dog Days. What about all the families with 3, 4, or more kids faced with on-line learning? Do they have to buy extra computers?

I have been patiently waiting out Covid and all it's implications. Then it dawned on me this week that this plague might be around forever. Like the flu. Like the common cold. Vaccinations didn't make the flu go away.

Soon people will start coming up with better ways to jump start our lives. Educators are really smart. They will figure out some way to preserve our educational system.

Our lives will change again. But's important to remember that when Pandora opened the box that let out all miseries of the world, hope remained inside.

Soon it will be freed too.


Thomas Kies said...

This reminded me of my days of a teenager working on a farm. We didn't have air conditioning either. Thanks for posting this, Charlotte!

Charlotte Hinger said...

Hi Tom--I think we will work out better ways to live with COVID. But air conditioning changed everything.

Irene Bennett Brown said...

It's true that flu is still here, but there are vaccinations to prevent it. We get our flu shot each year and it's been a long time since we've had the flu, or a cold.We also get pneumonia shots. At least we can hope there will be a vaccine to prevent Covid 19.

Your post made me nostalgic for school, too, Charlotte.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Irene--not everyone agrees with me. I think COVID will keep cycling back like the flu and the cold. Others think it will go away completely. Flu mutates and we have to stay vigilant and get our shots. My biggest health problem is environmental allergies. Ragweed season is absolutely vicious out here. Between it and the smoke laden air from fires, I'm quite done in.