Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dog Days...

The hazy, lazy baking days
Come early to us this year
Usually held at bay ‘til August
They slipped in on us without a sound
Without warning, in the middle of our dreams
Silently creeping, never sleeping
On their march from the South and West
Like lava flow they overtake us
Slowly pouring over our peace
Until one by one, we are consumed

Relentless by nature and vile in intent
They advance on our flanks and middle
But our resolve is stone
We will not give
To falter is to lose all
A price we will not pay
We are veterans, most of us
Seasoned hard from Seasons past
Our orders clear — hold your ground
Just one more battle we must tend
In this war we wage with Nature

The Enemy’s days are numbered now
We will beat them through attrition
Each passing day will see them weaken
Our sweat-burned eyes search the ridge
For September at the crest
But we are fickle creatures, we Human things
And satisfaction never fits our frames
It won’t be long when on Frosty Fronts
Another war is waged
Frozen breaths cry for relief
And the Dog Days of August

Copyright © 2006 WML. All Rights Reserved

The term Dog Days is a common expression throughout the South, I can’t speak for the North. It is used to describe the first 2-3 weeks of August usually. It is said to get so hot then that it drives the dogs mad.

My understanding is that at one time, when rabies was prevalent in this country, there were usually high incidences of it at this time of year. What actually occured was probably more along the lines of this:

1- People in rural early America most often built homes along creeks and rivers for water and convenience of travel.

2- During the hottest, driest part of the year (July-August) any water on the higher ground dried up. This forced racoons, skunks, ‘possums, foxes, groundhogs and other animals that serve as carriers for rabies to the river bottoms for water.

3- The wild animals would then come in contact with domestic animals owned by the people living there, who would be infected and go mad.
So, the old wives tales of it getting so hot in August that it drove the dogs to maddness was started.

It is also one of the worst times of year for copperheads and rattlesnakes. They come down off the hills seeking water as well, so there are more of them present. Not only the numbers increase but their attitudes are more aggressive due to the fact that they are molting (shedding their old skin due to outgrowing it). A molting snake, especially one with this dead skin pulled over its eyes blinding it, will strike at targets it would normally let pass without incidence.

Just a few little lessons for you from my Hillbilly heritage. lol

SIDE NOTE: It was not uncommon for rabied animals to be killed on our farm in eastern Kentucky when I was young. It paid to carry a pistol with you if you were going to the fields or anywhere distant from the house. There are still several reports a year of rabid animals being killed in the county where I currently live.

Stay alert, stay alive!

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