” Like to the star that cometh forth at harvest-time, and rightly do his ray shine amid the host of stars in the darkness of night, the star that men call by name the Dog of Orion. Brightest of all is he yet withal is he a sign of evil, and bringeth much fever upon the wretched mortals.” – Homer
This weeks art journal prompt is actually the second one from last week. I saved this prompt specific for this week knowing that we are headed into the second half of July and that we are also now in the first stages of the “Black Dog Days of Summer”. Around here in the Northern parts of Washington we are just warming up, seriously warming up. We are entering those days of little rain and most of all the hot heat that we really need to get those watermelons and cantaloupes really growing. This part of the summer is my favorite. This is when the black boys really want to be outside. They seem to come alive in ways that we don’t see during the stormy yuck months of winter. We play ball longer, we leave the sprinkler running a little longer for them to walk through, but most of all their attitudes towards life lifts to levels that remind me that I really need to take my Royal Bee to keep up with those black boys.
Thankfully, the earth gradually increases the heat factor slowly. Boyfriend wishes that the heat would get turned on high as soon as the first day of spring hits but like I said thankfully we are slowly introduced to the hottest days ahead. Yes, our boys will slow down and take their breaks mid-day. They have their favorite spots to lay outside. Buck, likes to lay in the shade of the tree in the front of the yard, wait now that I think about it he has two trees that are his favorites. If I am out there sitting in the lounge chair under the big tree then he will lay beside me but he loves to be sneaky and lay underneath the Japanese Maple at the bottom of the steps. I say he is sneaky because if you don’t know he is there when you come home he will surprise you with a big grin on his face and a heavy pant because he just knows that he has startled you by popping out when you least expected him too! He is a happy boy and will start dancin’ around lookin’ for more lovin’s and scratchin’s.
Sailor, on the other hand really needs to be in a southern climate. This boy will lay right on the front porch with the door closed. The front of our house faces Southwest. Do I need to say more about how hot it gets in that 4×4 foot patch of space? Holy Moly! I can’t understand how that black boy can take it but it truly is his own personal little sauna. The boy loves himself some heat! He will lay there panting so hard, mouth dripping with slop until we think he is about to over heat. It takes anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes of the 90+ degree heat before he will get up and head over to the shade. Believe it or not this is the boy that will literally lean up against the wood stove in the winter. Like I said the boy loves himself some heat.
Our black boys are pretty much the joy of our lives they bring happy moments and they snuggle us when we are sad but they really don’t add much to society on a whole. I’m not talking the whole canine species here I’m really talking about our Sailor and Buck-roo. When I can sit back and compare them to the brightest star in the night sky Sirius ( not that he is a real dog ) they don’t affect the global status of weather or the way the human race will be effected over all for the 40 days of hot summer heat. Wouldn’t that be cool though? To have a black dog that had so much power? Ok. Maybe not.
Sirius ( why so serious? hahahahahah ) You or anyone can look up in the dictonary, wikipedia or any other google site and see that the name Sirius means “glowing” or “scorcher” fitting I would say. The ancient Greeks observed the rising of Sirius in the early morning sky as the time of hot and dry summers that would cause the plants to wilt, men to weaken and women to become aroused. Well, I can say this they are right about the plants wilting. Our garden takes a lot more water than normal during this time. Another interesting fact about the ” Dog Star ” is that it is about twice as massive in scale as the sun and is 25 times brighter then our sun. Could you imagine what would happen to the gardens if Sirius was our sun. Holy Fireballs! Watermelons growing and exploding in a matter of days, peppers blooming, stretching and lighting on fire in mere moments! Yikes. We wouldn’t have a chance to eat them or preserve their yumminess, but if we timed everything correctly we could use them as weapons of mass destruction without spending mass tax dollars, that is if we were able to survive such extreme heat.
In our garden this year, you have been reading the garden updates, you will see through the pictures and blog post that we have been busy planting according to the moon phases and the signs. At the beginning of July we planted our second round of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. We do have our cantaloupe and watermelon planted also the black boys will be excited to see those come from the vine!
Summer heat brings out its’ own version of stunning glory! When it comes to flowers Sirius, that curious ” dog star ” is partial to rudbeckias, asters, zinnias, dahlias, coneflowers, yarrows, and all those other daisy like flowers that bring in the butterflies. Like our black dogs they will sit and watch the swallowtails and the moths fluttering about I bet Sirius would do the same thing. As for the veggies we grow we will see that Sirius’s dog dish would look a little like this: protein of some sort mixed in with rice and asian greens, beans, onions, peppers, pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes, all smothered in a creamy base of tomato sauce, dashed with a few spices of oregano, thyme, rosemary and Winter savory! Wait. Wait one minute. Is Sirius Italian? Greek?
Now that all that has been listed … I’m hungry. “Feed me, fee me from the garden See-more!”
Now as most of you know we celebrate anything and everything with fire. Our seasons are spent around the campfire but the one tradition that we have not picked up on yet is the sacrificing of small animals, such as dogs like the ancient Romans, or large ones to Sirius to harken in the cooler breezes to settle the heat a little. Heck, I think Sailor would show his discontent by peeing on me! Instead we would rather head to the beach where we can always find a cool breeze. Our mornings will start with a bit of fog blanketing the valley but no doubt by noon that will all be gone and the heat will pour down only to be cooled off later in the evening with a cool tall glass of sweet tea and a marine layer moving back in. Nothing says the changes of season like that first morning fog.
“The dog days continued through the early 19th century to be perceived as foreboding a time of evil, wherein “the sea boil, the wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies, ” as described by Brady in his Clavis Calendaria
This statement is pretty interesting. I have not noticed our wine turning sour but of course this is something that it worth the experiment! As for the sea boiling, I have seen over the years as sailing coach many changes in the waters below the coach boat and one of them was this … during the early parts of August we would be out sailing in very little to no breeze practicing among other things light wind sailing, patience and focus. For high school kids this would last about 15 minutes then their minds would wonder. As coach it was really hard to maintain a serious focus also simply because we would be floating in waters that were littered with floating jelly fish. Dead. Could this be because the sea boiled and killed them there jelly fish if they were not deep enough to stay cool? Interesting thoughts. As for our black boys, maybe Sailors laying on the porch in the hottest part of the day in the hottest part of the property is his way of showing his madness? What do you think? Could we really have a dog gone mad on our hands? Should we sacrifice him for a cooler breeze? 😉 Good thing we are not descendants of the ancient Romans!
As for the black dog days of summer we are very thankful that we endure the heat even if it for only a short while in comparison to the people south of us. We may have longer days and shorter nights, we may suffer for those 40 days because we are used to the cooler temps the rest of the year but we also enjoy the warmth the reaches to our bones. We enjoy the late nights that cool off and sleeping under the stars on top of the blankets. We do enjoy the growing gardens of big beautiful flowers and prize winning tomatoes. We do enjoy the creature comforts of the patio and summer campouts with friends. Our black dog days of summer can be wrapped up like this, if time could slow down just a bit during the warmest days, or if we could bottle that heat and jar it up for winter the Old Man Winter’s coldness would be just a bit more tolerable.
If you happen to be looking for a list of food that Sirius or your dogs could eat from the garden than take this list with you to your local farmers market or grow your own patch for your dogs!
Apples, apricots, bell pepper, broccoli, blackberries, blueberries, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, celery, collard greens, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, honeydew, kale, kiwi, khalorabi, onions, parsnips, peas, peaches, pears, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, raspberries, spinach, strawberries, squashes, Swiss chard, turnips, watermelon, zucchini
This list is not totally complete but it is a list you can get started with. I don’t claim to be a dog food expert but I do know what my black boys go crazy for and this is their favorite list.