Dog Days

Dog Days
Preblistered, unripe tomato and its basil buddies

The term Dog Days seems to imply that it is too hot for Dogs (or humans by extension) to frolic.  Nope.  Sirius, the dog formation of stars is close to Earth from the end of July to August.  Coincidentally, these days occur when the earth is warm, lakes are comfortable and the skies shine blue upon us.  Our base tans provide protection, and we have (in theory) developed new muscles from all our adventures.  It should be the perfect month in every way.

When I was a kid, school opened after Labor day, making August the equivalent of Heaven.

Days were hot, summer friendships were solid, and fresh garden produce made midwestern meals come to life.

There were 31 glorious days to flip flop through before Labor Day crushed summer spirit into submission.  Our parents had tired of nagging us, and our boundaries had expanded.  If we disappeared on our bikes for hours, they no longer worried.  We had become predictable.  The peace that came as we flittered was a gift.

These days, the reality of school has migrated into August.  Most colleges and school districts ring the “come back” bell by the last two weeks, and this reality casts a long shadow upon the entire month. The back to school displays have supplanted the picnic and pool supplies.

Yesterday I saw the first shipments of Hardy Mums displayed at Home Depot.  I mourn. I’ll hold off, thank you.

My geraniums and petunias are parched and leggy.My flower beds, challenged by a fence replacement, are stomped and rabbit eaten.  I have pretty much given up on my suburban garden of heirloom tomatoes and basil.  I keep adding support structures, but the fruit stubbornly remains green and unworthy of harvest.  Then it blisters and oozes.  I think I should hang up my farming tools.  On the plus side, I have enough basil to provide Caprese madness.  But the basil mocks the leafy and stinting tomato crop.

I have danced with the blues over the evaporation of my summer, but I have decided not to be a victim. I have no students, I am free of the obligation to really care for my atrophied  greenery, and I hereby extend my summer until the end of September.  The 21st, after all, is the official STOP date of the summer season.  I am merely adopting Tommy Skilling’s calendar as my own.

I have many things on my “summer” list.  I will read more books, without concern for their literary merits.  I will shun social networks (more).  I will let the dogs swim in the pool despite the hairy topcoat it creates.  I will eat ice cream.  I will head to Lake Michigan and let the dogs roll in the sand without obsessing.  I will ignore all the projects that keep me inside and fiddle outside.  Maybe the garage will get cleaned.  Maybe the orphan yews from landscaping eras of old will be dug from the ground so I can start fresh next year.  If I feel a burst of motivation, I will attempt to develop a love of walking in hope of stabilizing my failed knee replacement.  That seems like a stretch…but it should happen.

I have 6 weeks before I capitulate to to shorter days and cooler nights.  Even then, I am going to fight to keep summer in my step.  There are some benefits of having the nest to ourselves.  School supplies?  Not even a blip on our radar.

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