We have just been through the hottest part of the year, known from ancient times as "the dog days of summer" in honour of Sirius, the Dog Star. It is the brightest star in the sky, so bright that people thought it added to the heat of the season. In July and August is when the rise of Sirius coincides with the sun. Maybe that is part of why it's so hot here in the summer! August is definitely a time when people and the creatures alike are affected by the pervasive heat. There are more holidays and less work, and it's harder to stay caught up with the growth in the garden and the laundry and all those things on the to-do list. It seems the best thing to do is just head to the beach or your favourite patio.
The Greeks and Romans used to think that this time of year actually caused disease and hysteria; they believed that dogs panting more in the heat of summer signified the effect of Sirius on their souls. It seems today that ice-cold beverages, frozen treats and water sports are the best cure for any such ailment to man or beast :)
I hope you had a chance to enjoy the sultry Dog Days. Now we're headed into harvest, so you'd better get your apron on and your work gloves ready. There are jams, pickles, pies and sauces to make from fresh peaches, plums and tomatoes. Then there are carrots, beets and squash to pick and eat (don't try trading them with your neighbours, they have their own problems of abundance!) And just when you think it's time to sit back and relax, you have to think about packing it all up for winter!
Where does the time go? Can you believe that eight months - three quarters! - of 2014 is already done and gone?? I don't know about you, but the only way I'm sure is to think about how tired I am from all the stuff I've done. We have worked harder not just for the bank account but also for the larder. I am pleased to say I managed to dry cherries, make apricot jam, gooseberry syrup, peach pancake sauce and plum chutney. The veggie garden looks like more of a jungle than the rows I hoped for in early summer, but we had pasta tonight with fresh-picked zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. That was worth a toast before we dug in!
In thinking about the Dog Star and its significance to the season I figure the best philosophy is to think like my dog, Ella. She lives in the moment, always making the most of the here and now. That's what every season in life is all about, isn't it - creating moments? The start of summer was signaled by the taste of apricots from the orchard, and then it was cherries and peaches to represent the decadence of the season. The ice cream at Paynter's Fruit Market, perched on a freshly made waffle cone, was another tasty memory. Now that it's cooling off, the pears have taken their cue and are fast ripening. I will admit I have held off tasting one; I feel like I would be giving in to fall if I eat a pear in the orchard before September. There's no need to rush, right?