Enjoy the Dog Days of Summer

With summer waning it really becomes a matter of squeezing as much fun as possible into the remaining days of summer vacation.  Luckily, the Park Authority has some great ideas you can find in our Calendar of Events. And please, keep in mind Hidden Oaks Nature Center, newly reopened after extensive renovations specializes in end of summer activities and information!

During the dog days of summer, staying hydrated is critical. A founding member of the Fairfax County Park Authority’s Four-Footed Furry Fan Club, Jojo, demonstrates a key strategy for maintaining your cool, lapping up plenty of cool, clear water. Whereas dogs do not sweat through their skin, they do perspire through their paw pads. Dogs pant to help evaporate water from their insides and, ideally drink a lot of water.

The term “dog days” has roots in Ancient Greece. The time of year when the Northern Hemisphere’s humidity and temperatures are high traditionally starts in mid-July and can continue into September. This coincides with the rising of Sirius system, also known as the  Dog Star. During this uncomfortable time, thunderstorms and drought occur. Sages believed fever, mad dogs and bad luck followed in its wake.

Even with air conditioning, everyone, especially those who work outside, suffer the Dog Days of summer. Tips to care for avoiding both the lethargy and the discomfort associated with the end of summer include staying hydrated and taking frequent rest breaks. Keep a close eye on the weather and when you hear thunder, get inside. Do not shelter under a tree. Dress in cool fabrics and slow down your outdoor activity.

At a recent Hidden Oaks Nature Center camp, participants cooled off with water and bubble play. Naturalist Alex Doumbia found it cool, in multiple definitions of the word, to be encased in a bubble by the campers.

Credit: Kari Schilling

For more “cool” outdoor programs, check out Parktakes Online.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center is at 7701 Royce St., Annandale, VA.