Monday, September 6, 2010

Sibling Assignment #135: Dog Days of August

Silver Valley Girl gave the assignment this week:
What do you like and what do you dislike about the month of August?
Silver Valley Girl embraces August here and InlandEmpireGirl gives August an awkward hug here.

In August of 1998, not even a year after we were married, the Deke and I decided we needed to load up Molly and Patrick and drive the Toyota van across the country to see the Deke's mother in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

I had never been on land anywhere further east than Denver. All my life, especially as a baseball fan, I had heard about the dog days of summer, but didn't really know the full impact of that description.

During the early days of our trip, the weather was tolerable, even pleasant. We drove to Kellogg, played for a while in Spokane, visited Kathy and Loras in Bozeman, spent a day in Yellowstone Park, and made our way from Rock Springs to Cheyenne and on to Denver.

The days were hot, but nothing I regarded as dog day heat, and nothing any more intense than what we had all experienced before.

Before I move on, I should say that my entire experience with the term "dog days of summer" was related to baseball. The dog days of summer, from some time in July through early September, hitting their peak in August, are the most trying days of the baseball season, especially on pitchers.

The dog days of summer's impact on baseball players has lessened to a degree with the prominence of night games, but, still, hitters' home run production tends to be higher in August. My memory might be wrong, but I seem to remember Willie Mays being a more prodigious home run hitter in August and seem to remember Reggie Jackson first becoming famous because of a home run surge in August of 1969. It was in August of 1998 that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa stirred the excitement of baseball fans with their barrage of home runs.

But, for me, the reality of the dog days of August was only imaginary. Yes, I'd experienced some 100 degree days in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon; I'd even played some baseball in 100 degree heat. But I'd never experienced truly dog day heat.

On our trip we left Denver very early in the morning with the goal of spending the night in Blue Springs, Missouri.

As we made our way across Kansas, we were impervious to the building heat outside, thanks to air conditioning. We decided to make a stop in Ft. Hays, Kansas for some ice cream and to buy some personal items at Wal-Mart.

When I opened the side door for the kids to hop out, they nearly melted on the spot. They cried out infernal words and dragged themselves to the cool of the Wal-Mart.

I was astonished, too.

We loaded back into the van and made out way to Blue Springs. We passed the home park of the Kansas City Royals and remember thinking how fortunate these players were to be playing at night.

Then we pulled into the parking lot of a Howard Johnson's, near the Motel 6 where we'd reserved a room.

It was nearly 10 o'clock. It was dark. I expected a refreshing, cool night.

I jumped out of the van and gasped.

For air.

I thought I would drown.

I opened the side door of the van and Molly and Patrick once again let out infernal cries. They thought someone had just watered them down with a hot water fire hose.

The Deke was familiar with this kind of humidity from her youth, living in the Midwest.

The kids and I were astonished by the wet heavy blanketing heat.

Welcome to the dog days of summer.

From Blue Springs to Hendersonville to Bloomington, Indiana to the suburbs of Chicago, we experienced this quilt of heat.

I began to understand.

Dog days indeed.

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