The Dog Days

July 3, 2007

My trusty almanac states that the Dog Days begin today. Just in case, you know, you hadn’t noticed the heat yet this summer. Sirius ought to be visible shortly in the pre-dawn hours, so if you happen to be up and about, look towards the east for the brightest thing in the sky. The ancients believed that the prodigious heat of late summer was caused by Sirius, an idea thoroughly explained away in The Every Day Book:

The idea, however, of any such effects, either as to heat, or to disorders, from the influence of the canicular star, is now wholly exploded, from the reasons already assigned, and because ‘that star not only varies in its rising every year, as the latitude varies, but that it rises later and later every year in all latitudes;’ so that when it rises in winter, which by the way, cannot be for five or six thousand years, it might, with equal propriety, be charged with increasing the frost: and besides, it is to be observed, that although Sirius is the nearest to the earth of any of the fixed stars, it is computed to be at the enormous distance of 2,200,000,000,000 miles from our globe; a space too prodigious to admit of its rays affording any sensible heat; and which could not be passed by a canon-ball, flying with its calculated velocity of 480 miles in one hour, in less than 523,211 years! Upon the whole, therefore, it evidently appears, that the origin of the name of this star was not only wholly disregarded, but that common and undigested opinion made its conjunction with the sun, the cause of heat, &c. instead of having regarded it as a sign of the period when such effects might naturally be expected.

Where the dog leads, the hunter follows. Hesiod:

But when Orion and Sirius are come into mid-heaven, and rosy-fingered Dawn sees Arcturus, then cut off all the grape-clusters, Perses, and bring them home.

Show them to the sun ten days and ten nights: then cover them over for five, and on the sixth day draw off into vessels the gifts of joyful Dionysus.

But when the Pleiades and Hyades and strong Orion begin to set, then remember to plough in season: and so the completed year will fitly pass beneath the earth.

Speaking of the gifts of joyful Dionysus, we opened up the case of two-buck Chuck retrieved from Trader Joe’s during ezmeralda’s recent trip. For two bucks, you really can’t go wrong.

Today is also the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, who, having seen and believed, made the perfect expression of faith: “My Lord and my God.”

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One Response to “The Dog Days”

  1. Lisa Says:

    What??? Man, this is so you. This information outlet is just perfectly made for you. I am not a homeschooler nor Catholic so I don’t get everything but I get that it is all good! Good job and keep it up. I will check it from time to time.


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