These are the endless no relief dog days of the July and August one
hundred degrees and hotter California summer, and the ferocious heat
who you are.
In the distance from a hissy untuned tinny radio comes the wavering
solo voice of a strangely disinterested doo-wop balladeer singing a
slow throbbing song to no one in particular. The oppressive heat mutes
even his most daringly romantic inclinations which hang in the searing
oven dried air like unblown clouds. As I listen, beads of sweat form on
my brow. I let them run. My shirt is damp - cool when I move, sticky
when I don't. I keep within myself - conserving energy.
Parched cattle huddle under thirsty trees seeking protection in their
minimal shade. The river where they usually drink is bone dry, the
rocks and pebbles on the long exposed river bed bleached white by the
fierce sun. It means they will have to walk again in search of water
and they wait for the protection of sundown. Occasionally a calf
rustles through crisp dried grasses in search of something green to
eat. There's none, so it's forced to crunch on browned dried stalks of
long since perished weeds. Buzzing flies seeking the moisture on its
eyelids compound its plight. The flies don't have water to drink
either. There are no airconditioners for cows nor water coolers for
And even though there are airconditioners and watercoolers for human
beings, twenty human beings died in Phoenix Arizona in a four week
stretch of one hundred and fifteen degree heat. Contemplate this: dying
of heat in a major city having every modern amenity ...
Still the heat is not sympathetic. The ensuing days are just as hot if
A flock of buzzards soaring slowly high overhead, wings outstretched
unmoving, ride the thermals in lazy circles waiting for something down
there, beyond where I can see, to expire from dehydration. It's
They soar. They wait. And they wait. And they wait ... for the
Two buzzards drop suddenly like stones, swooping below my horizon of
vision. I hear a cawing altercation erupting. I see a cloud of dust
rising. If whatever is down there wasn't yet dead from the broiling
heat, it is now ...
The buzzards don't care. This isn't something you can control. This
isn't something your complaints matter to. This isn't something your
opinion impacts. This isn't something your distress softens. And the
heat doesn't care about
who you are
nor about your hopes and dreams and aspirations nor about your bank
balance nor about all your good deeds. It ... just ...
doesn't ... care ...
Managing the heat during these dog days is in part a matter of common
sense. Drink plenty of water to rehydrate your body. Wear appropriate
clothes. For some, that may be lightweight shorts and teeshirts. For
me, I prefer to cover my body with slacks and long sleeved shirts,
having immigrated to the United States from the
in the tropics, and having learned there that my body responds better
to heat when protected from direct sunshine by slightly heavier clothes
than when more exposed to it and covered by lighterweight clothes. If
you listen to your body it tells you what it needs.
That's how you manage the heat.
However none of these strategies addresses our pernicious reaction to
the dog days which is the tendency to complain about them to anyone who
will listen, as if somehow a mistake has been made and we have been
wronged for which we are unjustly charged with discomfort.
Any one of these three processes
the dog days:
When it's hot, create it being hot;
When you're hot, be hot;
When you're hot, be hot and recreate it being hot.