“It’s a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.” — Walter Winchell
The “Dog Days” of Summer just ended but I guess no one informed Mother Nature. Maybe she is “going through the change” and is sharing some of those hot flashes my wife tells me about. Much of the country is finding out about Momma’s hot flashes. Good Lord I’m dyin’ here. It is hotter than “all get out!”
Dog Days? Credit the ancient Greeks for the name. They dubbed Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, the “Dog Star”. From the Greek word Canis we somehow arrive at the word canine…the word for puppy dog.
The star appears above the eastern horizon just ahead of the Sun in late July and with its appearance, the hottest days of summer arrive. At least that is the folklore. It was already “hotter than a pepper sprout” before Sirius peeked at us from above the horizon.
The Greeks believed the combined power of the stars, Helios (Greek for the Sun) and Sirius. Their combined heat was what made this the hottest time of year. As hot as puppy breath.
The Greeks also believed the Dog Days didn’t bode well for humans…or dogs. All you have to do is read Homer’s Iliad. It refers to Sirius as Orion’s dog rising and describes the star as being associated with war and disaster. Even the Romans believed the rising of Sirius to be a time of drought, bad luck, and unrest when dogs and men alike would be driven mad by the extreme heat.
“Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” is believed to have been coined by Englishman Rudyard Kipling and might too apply. Not sure his quote has anything to do with the Dog Days but “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” was a great album. Sometimes my thoughts wander like Joe Cocker singing in front of a microphone.
I do know it is hotter than a mosquito’s tweeter. When I walked through the Wally World parking lot yesterday and got into my black truck with its black interior it was hotter than “blue blazes” which with “mosquito’s tweeters” got me to thinkin’, always iffy for me. I began to mull over all of the Southern colloquialisms I have heard to describe how hot it might be. These are some of the “cleaner” ones I’ve heard throughout my lifetime. Mostly cleaner…well borderline cleaner.
First, to be clear, I’m not complaining about the heat. After a particularly brutal winter, for the foothills of the South Carolina, I swore I would “nevah, evah” disparage the heat of summer again. Humidity, now that is something else. I will disparage humidity, it is fair game. So to be clear, I’m not disparaging the weather being “hotter than a Billy goat with four peckers.”
Seems we Southerners have several colorful colloquialisms involving Billy goats and heat. Besides the previously mentioned curiously endowed Billy there is “hotter than a Billy goat with a blow torch” and my favorite, “hotter than a Billy goat’s ass in a pepper patch.” Man, that’s sho nuff hot.
We have a gracious plenty of sayings involving animals and heat. “Hotter than Satan’s housecat.” “Hotter than a fire hydrant chasing a dog.” My very favorite, “hotter than two rats fornicating in a wool sock” or its variation, “two dogs fornicating in a croker sack.” Those sayings lose something in the translation but I felt it prudent to change from the other “F” word. I know a gussied up pig is still a pig. Finally, one I really don’t understand involves an owl I reckon, “Hotter than a hoot ‘n a poot.” Nope, don’t understand at all but it is somewhat rhythmic sounding.
Including the title of my epic, many sayings involve the Devil or Hell as you can imagine. “Hotter than the Devil’s armpit.” “Hotter than Satan’s toenails.” “Hotter than the hinges on the gates of Hell.” “Hotter than Hell and half of Georgia.”
Poor Georgia. Georgia is at best semi-tropical and at worst, centered directly over Hell. “Hotter than a Georgia firecracker lit at both ends.” “Hotter than Georgia asphalt.” Sorry, Georgia, I don’t mean to denigrate but there are few places I’d rather not be in the Southern summer and you are included on my list along with Columbia, South Carolina.
I know why “the devil went down to Georgia” in the old Charlie Daniels tune. Despite the lyrics, he wasn’t “looking for a soul to steal” or to challenge Johnny to a fiddle contest. He was on his way back home to Georgia from his vacation spot in Columbia. Sorry, Ray Charles, Georgia is not on my mind.
I reckon I would be remiss if I didn’t include one off color response to the Southern heat involving women of ill-repute. “Hotter than a two-dollar whore on Saturday night” or a variation on the theme, “Sweatin’ like a whore in Sunday school.” I’ll quit. Yeah, I know I said one off color response and your got two. Must have been Saturday nickel night.
During my early football coaching days I questioned a player who seemed to be struggling in the afternoon heat and humidity after the second practice during August two-a-days. His steps were slow and plodding, his head downcast as we fought our way up the hill to the locker room through soup like humidity.
“Bub, you lookin’ a bit wane. You okay?”
Exhaling heavily, “I’m ah sufferin’ from heat castration, Coach.”
“Heat castration? That’s a new one on me.”
“Yeah Coach, It’s so hot I’m sweating my balls off.” Bah-da-boom.
I read a quote recently that was directed at the Pelican State but could have been directed at any Southern state during the late summertime…or the rest of the United States this year. Tom Robbins wrote, “Louisiana in September was like an obscene phone call from nature. The air–moist, sultry, secretive, and far from fresh–felt as if it were being exhaled into one’s face. Sometimes it even sounded like heavy breathing.” Well said, Mr. Robbins, well said.
From previous experience, my guess is the obscene heat and humidity we Southerners endure will continue well past the official end of Summer. Mother Nature doesn’t seem to abide by calendars or such. At times I’ve found late October to be “hotter than forty dammits”.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining and I will not wish my life away longing for fall. I wouldn’t live anywhere else but am thankful for the invention of air conditioning cause otherwise I’d be “sweatin’ like a pig in a sausage factory.”
Meanwhile, here’s Charlie Daniels with a few of his friends. “Devil Comes Back to Georgia.”
Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1AnHOdby4tY4i5xWAMfNinEgy1Y4K5EpLKQBVaDr5-QeTZX1fkiYOzOW8
The soaring thermometer image came from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1429525/beware-of-soaring-heat-index-stay-cool-and-hydrated-pagasa