Dog Days of Summer

The dog days of summer have been more of a challenge in 2022 than in the past. Hot humid weather is always difficult for me as I prefer cooler weather. I don’t hate the summer, but I just don’t do well when it gets too hot.

A hiatus from writing blog posts has been part of my coping strategy. In the best of times, I don’t adhere to a posting schedule but, this summer, even my intermittent posts have stopped .  I can make excuses like dealing with my husband’s illness and treatment schedule.  At the cottage, I’ve project-managed demolition and re-construction of the decks and supervised the construction of an outdoor shower for the grandchildren.  All of this along with several heat waves in Ontario have zapped my energy and brought on a general lethargy.

What are the dog days?

Dog days of summer usually describe those long, sultry days from early July until mid-August. The Farmer’s Almanac notes that in ancient Greece and Rome the dog days were believed to be a time of drought, bad luck, and unrest.  It was seen as a time when both dogs and men could be driven mad by the extreme heat. I’m sure women were included!

short-coated black dog wearing sunglasses
Dog Days of Summer — photo by Mel Elias courtesy of Unsplash

I’m not a dog owner, but I’m told this is a difficult time for canines as they have a higher body temperature than humans. They don’t sweat in the same way we do but they can get heat exhaustion quickly.

There’s no question that when the worst of summer’s heat hits — man, woman, child and dog all feel it!

Combatting Lethargy

While most North Americans look forward to summer weather, the hot humid ‘dog’ days can cause sluggishness and lack of motivation.  Readers already know that extreme heat can be dangerous so modification of lifestyle and activities makes sense. I use various strategies to get through the worst of the heat waves, especially during those times when we can’t be at the cottage where the lake is always available for a cooling dip.

In terms of nutrition — chips, pizza and beer might be temptingly easy when dealing with hunger and thirst, but I know that my body needs fruits and veggies plus plenty of water.  Experts recommend drinking more water than usual even when not feeling particularly thirsty. I like freezing blueberries, watermelon squares, grapes or other fruits and then adding these to sparkling water for a refreshing drink with few calories. Of course, none of this means that ice cream is forbidden as a bite or three of any frozen treat is welcome!

When the days and nights are devastatingly hot, it’s time to stay indoors and enjoy the air conditioning. As much as possible, I avoid going outside during the hottest time of day unless I’m assured a shady spot. Even with the AC turned down and a fan above our bed, sometimes restful sleep is impossible during a heat wave.  When that happens, I don’t hesitate to nap in the afternoon.

Fashion be damned, this is the time of year when I pull every item of light-coloured loose-filling clothing from my closet.  I want air to circulate around my body. I wear open sandals to let my feet breathe.

While I don’t skip my exercise routines I modify activities when it’s hot. In fact, I postpone or reschedule all strenuous activities. Walks are shorter and happen early in the morning or in the evening followed by some gentle yoga stretches.

It’s Okay to be Lazy

Rather than lamenting my lethargy, I’ve decided that it’s okay to be lazy during these dog days. Scientific studies show that hot weather reduces energy including cognitive energy. Instead of forcing myself to get things done — like adhering to a writing schedule or cooking — I allow myself to be unproductive. Most things can wait for cooler weather to arrive.

When my brain focuses on the heat and humidity, I know it’s hopeless to force myself to try to accomplish a difficult task.  If those dog days with hot weather cause slowing down, so be it. I’ll give in to my wilted brain and rest.

Thanks for reading my post.  How do you cope with the dog days?  Does your productivity decline?  Does your brain wilt as mine does?


10 Replies to “Dog Days of Summer”

  1. Loved the photo of the dog! And yes, hot weather does make me more lethargic.

    1. Hot weather lethargy is the pits. Although I’m not good at remembering to drink water, I’m learning that it helps. Nonetheless, I’m thankful that the last heat wave in Ontario broke last week. Who imagined that weather would make such a difference in motivation, energy and mood? I hope this isn’t just another aspect of growing older!

  2. Bonnie Parkins says: Reply

    Funny, I was curious about the expression and had looked it up yesterday before I read your blog. I discovered that the ancient Greeks noticed that the hot sultry weather beginning in July coincided with the rise of the dog star, Sirius, the brightest true star in the sky. They thought it augmented the heat of the summer sun. It’s called the dog star because it follows the constellation Orion, the Hunter, like his obedient dog! I like your chill idea of freezing fruit to add to drinks.

    1. I read all about Sirius, the dog star when researching the post. I’m not much of a star-gazer but at the cottage, we have a beautiful display on every clear night. There’s no light contamination so I can actually see the constellations. Enjoy those frozen treats — my favourite this summer is frozen watermelon!

  3. Hi Jeannette! As climate change inevitably takes hold, I’ve decided I’m a spring and fall gal! Outdoor activities we enjoy like golfing, kayaking and cycling are not fun for me in these blast furnace summers. I am grateful for A/C and peaceful indoor pastimes until the extreme heat passes and I look forward to upping the activity ante in September!
    It may be that I’m not as motivated to regular productivity as you are. I gave myself permission to happily fritter away a day…or a week!…quite some time ago! I am thankful for Mick’s company in these years.
    Cheers to Rudy!

    1. Like you, I’m happy to hide inside during these hot and humid days! I’ve decided that the coldest days of winter are much easier than the blazing summer heat. September and June are now my favourite months! Thank goodness the temperatures have dropped in Ontario in the past few days!

  4. Great article Jeanette. It’s been hotter than I can remember but I try to get into the Sifton Bog as much as possible with my Dog Buddy. He’s a rescue from Cairo and just a fantastic boy. Say hi to Rudy and hope you are both doing well.

    1. Bravo for enjoying that beautiful Sifton Bog! I’m sure Buddy loves the nature trails with so many interesting smells. I hope the bugs aren’t bothering you — the last time I was there, my blood provided a feast for the mosquitos.

  5. Embrace the waves of lazy.
    After Covid introduced us to decreased physical and mental energy, heat waves piled on. Your blog was a good prescription for balance.
    Since our move west, we haven’t had AC, but joy of joys installation is imminent.
    Stay coo, my friend.

    1. I hope you get the AC soon as it seems climate change is going to mess with those ‘average’ temperatures that we assumed would always be with us.
      We had to get central air installed at the cottage a few years ago when we found ourselves going back to the city because it was too hot to sleep comfortably. I do, however, prefer those nights when there’s a nice breeze off the lake and every window can be opened!

I welcome feedback and will reply to your comments!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.