Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Yearning for the dog days of summer on a 3 dog night

History, Just for fun!, Weather

The temperature is dropping again. On cold days like today, I am happy when our little dog plants himself at my feet during the day or sits on my lap. He is nice and warm. Better yet is when he dives under the covers at night and snuggles in. One little 13 pound pooch can generate a fair amount of heat! That made me think of the phrase, 3 dog night.  

Back in the days before central heat, you can imagine having 3 hounds share your bed would be welcome additions. Other bed warming tricks from the good old days were bed warmers, a special lidded pan with a long handle. Hot coals from the hearth were placed in the pan, the lid closed, and then the pan was placed at the foot of the bed under the covers before bedtime to warm the bedding.

Once when we were camping in high altitudes, my dad warmed 2 rocks in the campfire, wrapped them in foil and a towel, and put them in my mom and sister's sleeping bags. (I was tough back then and didn't need a foot warmer.) That was an improvised bed warmer. The modern equivalent of the bed warmer would be a heating pad. Since we are keeping our upstairs at 50-55* degrees, heating pads are in great demand at our house!

The dog days of summer, by the way, does not refer to dogs laying out in the sun or panting from the heat, but rather the appearance of Sirius, the dog star, in the night sky. When that star is visible, it is usually the warmest time of the summer, hence the phrase, The Dog Days of Summer:  

The brightest of the stars in Canis Major (the big dog) is Sirius, which also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. In fact, it is so bright that the ancient Romans thought that the earth received heat from it. Look for it in the southern sky (viewed from northern latitudes) during January.

In the summer, however, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets with the sun. During late July Sirius is in conjunction with the sun, and the ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days” after the dog star.

The southern hemisphere is just starting the dog days of summer. Sounds good, doesn't it? 

*This is my self imposed attempt at reducing our heating bills. So far, I have reduced my consumption but not the charges. The heating pad really makes a difference--especially if some considerate family member turns it on before bedtime!  

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