Ah…the dogs days of Summer are here!
Wait. Seriously, what does that mean? Am I supposed to feed Sula extra treats during this time? Is it like a month long birthday? Did dogs once rule the planet, but only from late July to early September. What is the deal with the dog days?
Well it seems it all goes back to the Greeks. Big surprise there, right? The Dog Days, Caniculares Dies, were so coined for this period of the year, when the days were the hottest and longest. At least in the Northern Hemisphere they were. Later, the term migrated south and had the same meaning for the Southern Hemisphere but for their hot late Summer months.
Why a dog? Well, yes it could be noted that the domestic dogs of the Greek & Roman empires did grown especially lazy during these months and were not allowed to hunt for fear of extreme fatigue and illness. But, more accurately, this is the time of Sirius, the Dog Star, in the daytime sky. Sirius would rise with the sun, which was beating down upon them with a vengeance, so poor Sirius was found guilty by association.
The dog days have been novel fodder for many of the great classics and even some of the trashy paperbacks. These sultry stagnant days when the seas boil, the wine goes sour, dogs go mad and men lapse into fevers, hysterics and frenzies! Hey guys – you may call this the dog days, as an excuse, if you want but lets face it – that is male PMS.
The Greeks and Romans weren’t the only ones keeping an eye on the Dog Star and feeling the “heat” ,as it were, of this season. In Tamil Nadu India they refer to this time of Sirius as “Kathiri Veyyil” or “the sunlight that acts like scissors”. I love that description. I think I might actually have acted that description out last week at the grocery store when the person behind me was not watching and slammed into me with their cart from behind. There was like a bright light and then maybe bolts from my eyes and I am sure my hand gestures while I said “blank blank blank” were much like scissor moves. I digress.
While I am on the subject of dogs, and absolutely unrelated in every way except for the word DOG, lets chat briefly about hot dogs. Not the “born again American hot dogs”, but the original dogs. Born in 1852 in the butcher’s guild in Frankfurt on Main, the first “hot dog” was a smoked spiced sausage that was served in a milk roll. The Germans called it a “dachshund dog” after …well you know what a dachshund is. In 1871 a fine German immigrant (we hope, but hey he could have been a wife beater and a cheat at the cards table) introduced the dachshund dog to American at Coney Island. 20 years later this sausage was a regular and a favorite at baseball games and other sporting events. So, how did it go from dachshund dog to hot dog. Urban legend points to a cartoonist named T.A. Dorgan who used the name as the caption for one of his cartoons at the ball park. Unfortunately for those surviving Dorgans, they should hang up hopes for royalties as no cartoon has ever been found. Truth – i love this irony – it was named by a bunch of frat boys at Yale. They used to buy the dachshund dogs from a street cart they lovingly called the dog wagon. The vendor would yell, “get your hot dachshund dogs here” and the boys dropped the long D word and just went with hot dog. Those scholars seeking great knowledge and culture just struck out that culturally significant root word and made it the all American hot dog. Go Yale! Again, I digress.
Here in this spot I want you to imagine a picture of a hot dog. It could be your favorite kind all dressed out with onions and chili or mustard & mayo or one of the “haute” new renditions with a balsamic glaze and caramelized onions and melty gruyere. It could be just an image of piles of sausages or maybe you keep seeing a real dachshund. The problem here is that every image I found to post here, well…just seemed wrong. We will leave it at that.
So if you start to wonder why you feel like curling up on the front porch and watching the cars go by when its hot this month; now you know. Its the dog days of Summer.
So if you find yourself wondering why you are about to bite into food with the name dog in it, no worries – Fido is not one of the ingredients.
Doggone that was one strange blog.