we are heading into the "dog days of summer" here on the high plains of texas. in other areas of the world too i suppose as the "dog days' are not exclusive to these parts.
the term "dog days" came from sirius, the "dog star." in late july sirius is in conjunction with the sun. the ancients are said to have believed that the heat from sirius added to the heat of the sun creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather.
as i was growing up on that dry land cotton farm, my daddy and my grandpa always kept a bunch of hounds they used to "hunt" coyote, raccoon and bobcat. i don't remember being envious of those old dogs but during the heat of the day they would be laid up under the front porch or under the house in the shade. i on the other hand, would be in the fields either chopping cotton or driving the tractor. i remember many times, on a partly cloudy day, wishing that a cloud would cover the sun, even briefly, giving a moment of relief.
in those days, central air conditioning was rare. even evaporative cooling was a luxury and one we didn't have. walking the rows in the cotton patch we dressed in a long sleeved shirt, gloves and a hat-- or a bonnet if you were female. the aim of this overdressing was to prevent being burnt to a crisp by the unforgiving sun. walking out and back again once equaled a "round." the day was not measured in hours but by the number of rounds made in a 10-12 hour day.
working the fields growing up was not what this kid wanted to do. it's just the way it was. i grew up poor and never knew anything different. at the end of the day i'd be dog tired and dry as a bone and always aware that come sunrise it would be time to do it all over again.
sitting here in air conditioned comfort i know the person i am today was forged in the fire of that south plains cotton patch. the hours and days spent chopping weeds or driving tractor were not wasted. there were lessons learned from that sweaty, back breaking work. like setting goals and meeting them. how many rounds can be made today. don't miss any weeds. don't chop up any cotton plants. side by side with my family, working, sweating to make a crop, looking forward to the day the crop was "laid by", the work done until harvest time.
always there was the hope that we might be finished a few days before school started up again. those halcyon days were much anticipated, a reward for a summer's labors toward the good of all. they raced unerringly toward the end of the "dog days," the beginning of another school year, and a nine month count down toward doing it all yet again. aio.