We’re in the Dog Days, a season for wearing shades while relaxing on the chaise, a time when kids man lemonade stands and free concerts are given by oomph-pa-pa bands.
You know it’s high summer when it seems like you are forever digging such things as raspberry seeds or bits of sweet corn silk out of your teeth. But this is what we lived for during our long and bleak winter. This is why we endured those eight – no, it was 10! – months of jaw-clenching cold, clinging to our Gurney’s catalogues, staring at the tomato photos in the wan light and mumbling to ourselves, “By gee, if I somehow manage to live through this I’ll never again take summer for granted!”
And here it is, high summer, and we’re taking it all for granted. This is largely due to our overscheduled lives. Summer means running off here to do this, or dashing away there to do that. Does anyone know what time it is? Three-quarters past summer, that’s what! Kids aren’t allowed to enjoy summer anymore; they are instead sent off to camps to have their heads filled with highly specialized skills. There are rolle bolle camps and piccolo camps and camps where kids learn all about rutabagas. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there are even camp camps.
It won’t be long before we’ll be sending kids off to kid camp, where they will be instructed about how to be kids. Wake up, people! This is something that should come as naturally as a dog taking a catnap!
Perhaps one of the best things about summertime is the wide range of aromas.
Taking your daily constitutional in the winter is like strolling through a scent environment that most closely resembles a deep freeze.
Summertime presents the perambulator with a palette of perfumes that varies from day to day, and even from one discreet area to the next.
For instance, one might pass a pollinating corn field and be assaulted by the aroma of millions of corn plants making whoopie. Stroll a short ways farther and you may detect the tangy tartness wafting up from a clump of cattails.
And then there are the flora and fauna and fowl. During my walks I often see a pair of American kestrels. They are also known as sparrow hawks, although I can’t imagine how birdologists managed to determine what the elfin falcon’s views are regarding organized combat.
It’s fun to watch them watch me from their perch on the power lines, safe in the supposition that I am too large for even the hungriest and most ambitious kestrel. Sometimes I will see them hovering, hummingbird-like, over a specific spot. This likely means it’s lunchtime for the kestrel.
I somehow absorbed the fact that kestrels can see in ultraviolet. This is one of those nuggets of knowledge that has been totally useless up until this very moment.
Anyhow, it seems that mouse and vole urine is visible in ultraviolet. Using their ultraviolet vision, the kestrel can thus determine if lunch has been loitering somewhere down below. This is an example of endlessly escalating measures and countermeasures, one that can only culminate with the deployment of miniature porta-potties by the mice and voles.
After my walk, my feet inevitably point themselves toward our garden, which has turned out embarrassingly successful.
The advent of Dog Days means that gardens are now at their peak. Our garden has become a jumbled jungle that contains a prodigious plethora of pulchritudinous produce. I often wonder: who the heck ordered all these stupid tomatoes? We’ll have to call up the folks who make Heinz catsup (or is it ketchup?) if we hope to keep all these ‘maters from going to waste. And the sweet corn! I like sweet corn as much as the next guy, but we’ll soon have sweet corn coming out our ears! That doesn’t sound like a very comfortable outcome.
Speaking of comfort, the Dog Days are traditionally the hottest days of the year, a time for languid torpor. After all, it’s summertime and the living is easy. After tending the garden, I often do what any good dog would do, that is, hunt for a cool, shady spot. Reclining on my chaise in the shade, I may sip something refreshing and might even sneak in a short nap. Imagine that! Sleeping outside! This was unthinkable a few short months ago and will be again in another little while.
My wife lets me be at such times, so I can go traveling in my own mind. Because as we know, every dog has his day, and she knows enough to let sleeping dogs lay.
Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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