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From Jacksonville Beach, FL

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Staying cool these dog days of summer

During the Dog Days of summer, your best bet is to find a cool spot and avoid
all activity.  Do this preferably in the early morning or late afternoon.  In Florida
the very air is stifling hot. Sip a cool drink or eat a popsicle while you're out there.
    "Dog days" in the Northern hemisphere occur roughly from July 3 to August 11, the period with the hottest, most humid days of the year.  The Romans believed the days were an evil time "the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics and frenzies."
 ( Brady.  Clavis Calendaria. 1813)
     Why "dog days"?  Why pick on man's best friend?  The constellation Canis Major (large dog) contains Sirius, the dog star, the brightest star in the evening sky.  In ancient times, toward the end of summer, it rose and set at the same time as the sun.  (This is no longer  true because through time the constellations have drifted a bit from where they were in ancient days.) Because of its brilliance, the Romans thought it radiated heat which when added to the heat of the sun caused hot, muggy weather. 
     This summer has been extra hot, dry and humid.  The Romans would blame it on Sirius, the dog star.  Such hot weather does cause people to be grumpy and some a bit frenzied. The only solution for survival is to search out cool places and activities.  I've read of cities providing cool spaces for those without air-conditioning. In Jacksonville, FL where I live, the zoo did their part this weekend by holding the first ever Winter in July.  Snow was sprayed on the zoo great lawn and a slide was put up to represent a slippery slope.  Needless to say, throwing snowballs was immensely popular in the 95 degree heat.  
     Here are a few of my hot, Florida methods for staying somewhat comfortable:

  • Go to an air-conditioned movie during the hot part of the day.
  • Swim at a pool, lake, ocean, or river.
  • Join the children under the lawn sprinkler.
  • Eat spicy food.  It makes you sweat which cools you.
  • Take a shower, but not a cold one, or your body will heat up to compensate for the cold water.
  • Slow down your body movements.  Take it easy.
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
  • Don't drink much alcohol.  It heats you up.
  • Don't over eat.  
  • Do eat popsicles, sherbet and snow cones.
  • Go to an indoor, air-conditioned mall.
  • Browse for books in the air-conditioned library.
  • As a last resort, if your car is air-conditioned, take a long drive. 


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