We are in the Dog Days of Summer, which began July 3 and end August 11. Many believe these summer days were given that name in reference to the heat, and that even dogs are stricken lazy by it. During these Dog Days, we may find our writing lagging, too.
But the term Dog Days of Summer isn’t about the heat or lazy dogs. Actually, it refers to a different kind of dog: Sirius—Orion’s most loyal hunting dog. The Dog Days of Summer actually refers to the heliacal rising of the Sirius (heliacal, meaning rising with the sun), which for the six weeks we’re in the midst of now, is the brightest star on the morning horizon.
Briefly, the legend goes like this: The god of the sun Apollo was jealous of Orion because Artemis, Apollo’s twin sister and goddess of the moon, was in love with him. In his jealousy, Apollo looked for a way to kill Orion. Teasing Artemis about her archery skills at which she was expert, Apollo challenged her to hit a speck far out in the ocean. Apollo knew, although Artemis didn’t, that the speck was really Orion swimming. Artemis killed him with a single arrow. When she realized she had killed her lover, she was overcome with guilt and placed him up in the heavens as a constellation. But Orion’s faithful hunting dog, Sirius, would not stop searching for his master, so Artemis placed him, the Dog Star, at Orion’s heels.
Sirius rises before the sun these July mornings. If you look to the eastern horizon, just before sunrise, you’ll see it glowing and twinkling.
Need a prompt to keep you writing during the Dog Days of Summer? Try this one:
Write about waking at dawn
Tell me what happened.