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The dog days of summer
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The dog days of summer are upon us.

We complain about heat and humidity and wonder if we will ever see cool temperatures again but this is the south and the way it should be in July and August.

It may get just as hot in northern parts of the country as it does here but our season is longer and folks living north of the Mason-Dixon Line are amazed anyone survives southern summers.

Naturally we feel the same way about those unfortunates who live where it snows in October and stays on the ground until May.

Southern summers are to be relished because when the grim days of February arrive, we forget the dog days and paw at the ground waiting for warm weather.

There are a number of southern defenses to the dog days, one of which is sitting on the patio enjoying a cold cocktail while surrounded by the smell of fresh cut grass. It’s even better if someone else has cut the grass.

Another defense against blistering summers of the south is a staple of life: a slice of ice cold watermelon. Watermelon should be considered a separate food group.

At a recent family gathering I was responsible for bringing the watermelon. I found a particularly large one and after it reached what felt to be a sub-zero temperature placed it on the table. I quartered the melon with plans to slice it further when I was called away by my cousin to perform some menial duty, like lifting something heavy or killing a spider.

If men could not lift heavy things or kill spiders, women would have had a hunting season on us years ago.

When I returned to finish my melon cutting, I was greeted by Buford, my cousin’s 52-pound Basset Hound, sitting in the middle of the table chomping away. He had one chunk in his mouth, another under his stomach and the hindquarters covered the other two. In short, there was no part of the melon Buford did not call his own. He gave me that sad-eyed look as if to say, well, these are dog days.

As a child I was warned to not swallow the seeds but Buford was indifferent. If the fat rascal had been able to spit seeds I would have called "America’s Got Talent."

As it was I had to inform my relatives there would be no watermelon. I feared pitchforks and burning torches were in my future.

My cousin just sighed and said it was not the fist time Buford had helped himself when the table was left unattended. Eventually we got another watermelon, which was not shared with Buford.

So don’t complain about the heat. These are the dog days of summer and they will be gone soon enough.

Meanwhile, get yourself a fat watermelon, ice it to the brink of freezing and enjoy. And if you have a Basset Hound around, try teaching it to spit seeds.

Ric Latarski is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics and can be reached at