Mid-August. The dog days of summer came to be known as such due to Sirius's (or Dog Star's) close proximity to the Earth and relevance in signifying the shifting of seasons and weather patterns. To the Egyptians, the star's rising meant the flooding of the Nile was just around the corner. To the Polynesians, a welcome sign from which to navigate the winter seas. The ancient Greeks observed that following the star's heliacal rising, unsettled weather conditions abound and gave way to the hot, dry time of summer, causing plants to wilt, men to weaken, and women to become aroused. Anyone suffering its effects was said to be astroboletos, or 'star-struck'.
Hence these dog days of August coincide with the dogged days of farming. Any farmer suffering it's effects, shows symptoms of being awe-struck by the sheer abundance of growth heralding the produce. The workload lengthens while the daylength shortens as you're up against the onset of frost and endless onslaught of zucchini. This is the time of year, where you dig deep into the subsoil of your soul and find those pockets of perserverence and just keep pace. Like the ancient Dog star, you feel the heat of the day last into the night—the prominence of the star's position in Cannis major—casting a warm shadow while the canner boils onward with the next round of pickles and salsa. Those extra unplanned yet necessary projects burned a hole in your pocket and you see your cash flow wilt alongisde your chard and broccoli. Dog gone it, the cilantro set seed before the tomatoes ripened – time to reinvent salsa seasoning with a bit of thyme, though not the time to make long-term plans, just size up the rootedness of with the carrots and comfrey.
While muscles hardened from a seaon's labor, you remind yourself to soften and relax your mind and park your worries in the decaying Cumulus congestus –precipitating away a false sense of moisture, and heck it hasn't rained much anyway in the past few weeks, and NW Sauk Co has officially been declared as drought-stricken. And so I try to cultivate mini rituals (every hour stop look up at the clouds and enjoy a relevery – shake out the routine, do a few yogic downward dogs, dance out the wheat, sing to the saskatoon while you water the orchard). These are the things that will get me through the harvest, and the relentless brushing of Japanese beetles from the seaberries, scrubbing of cucumbers, deadheading of sunflowers, chopping of onion, picking of pears, etc., I try not to grow weary, shrivel up from falling short of even the best laid plans (just when you think you're getting ahead of the game with infrastructure, the County reminds you, you need a new septic system—I know, I know, says the soil scientist in me, this year's poop is next year's flowers). Rather, I try and let my barefeet warm to the radiant heat of soil as before long, I'll be trading in sandals for snowshoes.
Mid-August. These are the dog days and the dogged days. The time to do and to dream, but do so in a way that balances perserverance and willpower to get you to Fall into them, with the very formlessness of the drifting skies, stars, cloudshapes and heat. The good news is I finally seem to be getting the hang of it – this farming thing. And like the dog days of summer in all its abundance and anxiety, floodwaters of weariness and arousal, cloud shapes and dog stars foreseen, farming dreams seem to appear when the impediment to them doing so has relaxed; and according as they are thus set free. Bring on the floods of fall! And now back to reigning in the harvest.