Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Experiecning the Dog Days While At Home




  It is hot again, and the weather has been a big part of our lives these last few weeks. There were most notably the downpours, thunderstorms, and tornadoes of last week.  Power was knocked out, roads and basements were flooded, and trees were felled throughout the region. Those events were both preceded by, and now followed by, intense heat and humidity. As many of us are home for so much of the time now, that means that we are spending a lot of time in front of fans, in air-conditioned environments, or trying to grab a little shade and a stray breeze on our porches or in our backyards.  This can often be a time of two-three showers a day. The “Dog Days” of summer are definitely here, and they have announced their presence in very dramatic fashion.

    The Dog Days are traditionally cited as falling between July 3 and August 17th-18th. In the Southern and mid-Atlantic regions of the US it is a time of intense heat, high humidity, torrential downpours, and thunderstorms and windstorms. When I was young I thought this time was called the “Dog Days’ because so often dogs would be seen on the streets with their tongues hanging out and panting, as if struggling to breathe. I had friends who said, “No, it is because dogs get driven mad by the heat in this weather, and they go around biting and attacking you.” I did not grow up in a house that had a dog, so this made me a little wary and afraid of dogs for a good long while. I did not want to be seen as a potential meal for a canine.

  Neither of those stories are true; “The Dog Days” refer to the period of time when there is the visible appearance of a super-bright star in the morning sky. That star is now called, Sirius” and its sunrise appearance was first noted and recorded yearly by the Egyptians thousands of years ago. They noted that when that star appeared, the Nile River would begin its period of flooding, and that was vital information. The Egyptians needed to know that for their agricultural output depended on the regular flooding of the Nile. The height and length of time of the flood season was the key to knowing when to plant crops, and when to trade items up and down the Nile.Knowing that was therefore the key to Egypt’s success as a civilization. Sirius was literally a watchdog for that event. Greece and Rome got a lot of their celestial knowledge from the Egyptians, and they eventually put Sirius into a constellation-Canus Majoris or Great Dog. The name of the constellation shows how important the star’s arrival was to them. And like so much of Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures, that knowledge made its way to us.

   I am thinking about this now because for the first time in a really long time, I am spending all of the Dog Days at home in Philadelphia. August 8th is my wedding anniversary, and right after our wedding, 39 years ago, Penny and I headed north on a wonderful camping honeymoon to Maine and to Nova Scotia. And just about every year since then we spent the Dog Days of August in the Northlands, usually camping, in NY State, New England, and Canada. We got to see wondrous places and wondrous sites; heron and egret roosts in the evenings as the birds returned; the Perseid meteor showers, visible tonight and tomorrow, which are absolutely phenomenal when seen away from city lights and by a lakeside or a lighthouse. Watching sunrises and/or sunsets from a small mountain can be literally breathtaking. Those were times when we were able to truly have a vacation: to “vacate”-leave our regular lives behind. Special times, indeed.

   Last year I did not go camping, but I did go up to Kingston, Ontario, where Penny and I went for over 20 years. I got to see the Perseids one night at Kingston’s Confederation Park, right where the Rideau Canal meets Lake Ontario.  It was a bright, clear night, and meteors were streaking across the sky every few minutes.  It was special: magical.

   And it will be magical again as I watch the Perseids this evening and tomorrow night from my backyard and standing on Bryan Street. And it will be calming and soothing and wondrous as I go walking in the morning tomorrow and see the sunrise over Mt. Airy or Germantown or Chestnut Hill, depending upon where I walk. These are all special and quietly awesome things to witness. They are all part of the gifts that can come from looking up. And a part of me will truly miss being up North at this time. That had become so special to me, and I am a little sad about not doing it this year. But I am also so grateful to have had years of being able to travel northward and experience the wonders of looking up into a brighter and clearer sky. Who knew that simply looking up can bring such joy?


CENSUS 2020: The census will be ending September 30, a month earlier than previously scheduled. This is important; if you have not done your census yet, please do it now! The census is hugely important. The information it contains helps the Federal government decide on things such as voting districts, grants for Federal aid, transportation and highway funds, and a hell of a lot more. It is one of the ways our tax dollars get to come back to us in our own areas, and as COVID makes abundantly clear, we need our tax dollars put to work for us. It is essential that as accurate a count as possible is taken, particularly when the the door to door census is on hold. Our online completions are even more important now than ever before. Please go to the website: https://2020census.gov/en.html And check to make sure friends, family members, and co workers have completed the process.


Roadhouse Blues Concert, Sunday, August 16th- 4PM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vt5Zf51bDZk&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR3Jjfue8jqQVTGebnOVeO8KlwO7jPcN6bEIDamtrLfNwDwGwQkfchmG4Zk

    This is a live streaming concert featuring acoustic blues guitarist and singer Johnny Never, harp player John Colgan-Davis, and bassist Dave Young doing a wonderful mix of Piedmont, Delta, and other blues styles. And maybe even a little early jazz and rock and roll. No fee, but tips are definitely appreciated: https://johnnynever.com/tip-jars/3826

COSMIC CAFÉ:1 Boathouse Row; Philadelphia, PA; Sat.August 29

Johnny Never and John Colgan-Davis will be playing acoustic blues in a live concert on Saturday, August 29 at the Cosmic Café, a wonderful little outdoor café at 1 Boathouse Row behind the Art Museum. Sets are from 3PM-6PM. Masks are required and tables are separated. Great food and beverages. No cover, but tips are appreciated:


  The recent upticks in local COVID infections means that the Dukes are going to lay low until December at the earliest. Hopefully treatments and/or a COVID vaccine can be developed, tested and distributed by then, but we are not doing any live gigs for now. It is simply too risky. We want to thank all of our fans and friends-playing for you is an absolute joy and the reason we do what we do. We are looking forward to a time when we can safely do it live again. Stay safe, be careful and be well.

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Dukes Live Dukes of Destiny - Chain of Fool'

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