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Possumhaw: Dog days of summer

 

Shannon Bardwell

 

 

"The library in summer is the most wonderful thing because there you get books on any subject and read them each for only as long as they hold your interest, abandoning any that don't, halfway or a quarter of the way through if you like, and store up all that knowledge in the happy corners of your mind for your own self and not to show off how much you know or spit it back at your teacher on a test paper." 

 

-- Polly Horvath, author of "Everything on a Waffle." 

 

 

 

The word of the day from Merriam-Webster was "canicular," a Latin derivative referring to the star "Sirius" and meaning "small dog." Between July 3 and Aug. 11, the star rises at the same time as the sun. It's a bit of a stretch, but Sirius is known as the hound of the hunter, Orion, in the constellations. This star appears at its brightest when in the Northern Hemisphere temperatures are at their hottest. Somewhere in all of that, a star, a dog, a hot summer, came the expression the "dog days of summer." Now you know. 

 

Dog days lend themselves to lethargy, inactivity; a time when it feels muggy outside, hot and sultry, and the air is stagnating. As a child it was a time when neighbor kids played outside in the long hot summer days, and well into the evenings they gathered for a game of kick-the-can or hide-and-seek until mothers hollered or whistled their brood inside for baths and bedtime stories.  

 

I don't so much appreciate too-hot temperatures these days. Watering and gardening must be done early or late and animals fed, too. Cooking on the stove or in the oven is kept to a minimum. The microwave stays busy.  

 

Basketball season is over and now baseball, too. Sam watches fishing shows like "Wicked Tuna." I occasionally catch an episode of Andy Griffith. We've both turned to reading -- a cool indoor sport. Sam's current read is "All the Light We Cannot See," by Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Doerr. He's a third of the way through the novel. 

 

I've taken to re-reading my favorite books. I finished the Lauren Winner books, as well as Barbara Brown Taylor and Anne Lamott. Now I'm reading Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' "Cross Creek" for at least the third time. I discovered Rawlings had written several more books I haven't read. Those will be next. By accessing the Columbus-Lowndes Library website, I found all the books are available locally. Rawlings wrote in the 1940s, first trying Gothic novels until her editor suggested she write something she knew about -- so she wrote about her neighbors. She won a Pulitzer with "The Yearling."  

 

I admit I've also alternated between my current re-reads and my favorite decluttering-minimizing-capsule wardrobing-organizing books, which always sends me into a season of decluttering, minimizing, capsule wardrobing and organizing which, if you think about it, is another great indoor activity for the dog days of summer. 

 

The Friends of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library host a book sale Thursday 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturday 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Teachers with teacher ID can fill up to three paper bags with books to build classroom libraries, $5 per sack. 

 

 

 

 

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.

 

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