This is that time of the year I dread most. That sultry period from about July 4 until well after Labor Day when your sunglasses fog over the minute you hit the back door and putting on make-up is futile.
Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period extending from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) and the sun become the bane of existence.
In the latitude of the Mediterranean region, this period coincided with hot days that were plagued with disease and discomfort. Mississippi is no where near the Mediterranean, and I submit our dog days are much worse.
In recent years, the phrase “dog days of summer” has found new meanings. The term has frequently been used in reference to the American stock market. Typically, summer is a very slow time for the market, and additionally, poorly performing stocks with little future potential are frequently known as “dogs.”
These days, many people believe the phrase is in reference to the conspicuous laziness of domesticated dogs (who are in danger of overheating with too much exercise) during the hottest days of the summer. When speaking of dog days there seems to be a connotation of lying or “dogging” around, or being “dog tired” on hot and humid afternoons. Lucky Dawg and Rebel claim that these meanings have nothing to do with the original source of the phrase, it was in the stars.
So how to best survive the hottest, most humid days of the year? Never leave the house without water (and make doubly sure your pets have plenty of water in their bowls). As you lose water to dehydration, your body temperature rises, so replacing fluids is essential. Avoid alcohol, caffeine or lots of sugar, which are dehydrating. And choose hydrating foods. Of all the foods out there, watermelon has the greatest water content. Another reason to love Mississippi.
Synthetic fabrics that wick away sweat are not just for athletes anymore. They make for great heat-beating summer wear. If you prefer cotton, make it thin, light colored and, most of all, loose.
Closing curtains and blinds (ideally with sun-deflecting white on the window side) can reduce the amount of heat that passes into your home by as much as 45 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Fill your bathtub with cool water and get in. Once you are used to the temperature, let some water out and refill with cold water. Your body will stay cool for a long time after you get out.
Slice a thin piece of cold cucumber and stick it in the middle of your forehead. This feels fantastic on a hot day and works almost immediately.
Take heart, the discount stores are already putting out “Back to School” merchandise. The long, hot summer will soon melt into fall. Can’t be too soon for me!