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Opinion: Dog Days of summer

This week the triple-digit temperatures officially ushered in the Dawg Daze of Summer. Merriam Webster said that July 3 through Aug. 11 is the hottest, most sultry and oppressive days of Summer. The Farmers’ Almanac lists the annual appearance of the dog days as the 40 days following the heliacal or first sun-up rising of the Dog Star, Sirius.

It further says that on July 23, the Sirius and Sun combination. is so bright, the ancient Romans believed Sirius emitted enough heat that it added to the Suns’ warmth. This accounts for the long stretch of sweltering heat. They referred to this time as the “dies canicular,” which is Latin for dog days.

Thus, the term Dog Days of Summer came to mean the 20 days before and 20 days after this alignment of Sirius with the Sun, from July 3 to August 11 each year. The Sirius constellation is named Canis Major, the Greater Dog.

While this period is usually the hottest stretch of Summer, it is not due to any additional radiation from Sirius, regardless of its brightness.

The heat of Summer is a direct result of the Earth’s tilt.

During Summer in our Northern Hemisphere, the tilt of the Earth causes the Sun’s rays to hit at a direct angle, and for a longer period of time throughout the day. This means longer, hotter days.

Technical jargon aside farmers are aware they are at the mercy of weather conditions and how it affects their crops. Farming can be intense work under severe weather conditions. The hours are long and the tasks can be brutal.

It is important to keep your pets, dogs, cats and others protected from the heat. Shade and other cool spots with access to plenty of water are vital to the well-being of both pets and people.

The City of Madera is operating Cooling Centers in the Frank Bergon Senior Center, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 238 S D St, Madera.

A closed automobile can reach high temperatures very quickly and cause great harm to those inside. Never leave pets or anyone else in an enclosed vehicle as the heat can reach more than 100 degrees in a matter of minutes. Especially young and elderly persons are most susceptible.

Dress in cool, flowing garments but not clothing that restricts movement. Hydration cannot be over-emphasized. Utilizing air-conditioned spaces can save one from heat-related maladies.

Limit outdoor activities no matter how appealing the sunny skies may seem.

The National Weather Service is forecasting more than a week of high-temperature days and warmer than normal evenings.

Growing up playing in public parks was an enjoyable experience. At what is now named Centennial Park there were toys to play on that would be considered far too dangerous by today’s standards.

Known then as Swimming Pool Park, an all-metal merry-go-round required one to run around alongside the spinning disk equipped with metal bars for handles. The metal hand-holds were worn smooth with the paint rubbed off by years of use delighting generations of Madera children.

A jet bomber placed in Swimming Pool Park had children climbing and falling off its impressive wingspan. It too has been removed as it posed a very attractive and dangerous nuisance

My Girl Scout Troop 128 led by the late Ruth Fishkin and Janet Nyberg directed early morning swimming lessons in water that felt near freezing. As one of the few public pools in Madera, a young P.E. teacher from Thomas Jefferson named Coach Frank Smith supervised the staff of high school-age lifeguards and swim instructors. These kids were only ten years older than their charges, numbering 15 to 20 students per class.

Armed with just whistles and life vests each lesson lasted about an hour, five days a week. Starting in the shallow 12-inch-deep kiddie pool, the young aquatics graduated to the 10-foot-deep big pool and the two diving boards on the opposite end of the pool.

Standing at the end of the high diving board, looking out at the vast crystal blue water can be frightening for a wet, cold 6-year-old.

Many thought it best to get a running start until you ran out of diving board, looking like Wiley Coyote chasing after the Roadrunner. The experience was invigorating.

Disasters can occur when people don’t know how to swim. Lives cut short due to drowning have the ripple effect of touching all those around. A refreshing experience can turn tragic in the blink of an eye. Unsupervised children can be lost in an instant.

Have a blessed and safe weekend.

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Readers, please contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.


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