(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Legends on Dog Days carry truth and fantasy” was originally published in the Aug. 12, 1982 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
Since man has been able to look into the heavens, he has observed the coming and going of the seasons of the year and the movement of the heavenly bodies.
Through the ages, he has associated these movements with the tides of the oceans and with his surroundings. He has even associated these movements with himself. He has calculated the rotation of the planets to the degree that he has planned his life in harmony with these movements.
Such a time that has endured the passage of the centuries is the period that begins July 28 and ends Sept. 5. This period, called “Dog Days” by the ancients, has been the topic of much discussion throughout man’s history.
Truth and fantasy
Many legends derive from the past about Dog Days. Some of these carry a certain amount of truth; others are fantasy and myth that have survived the ages.
According to the legends, the star Sirius is known as the Dog Star. This star is the brightest of the heavenly bodies, excluding the sun. It is also the nearest star to the earth, its light taking only nine years to travel the distance between us. Sirius is the head of the great constellation Canis Major, The Great Dog.
During the period from July 28 to Sept. 5, this great star rises with the sun and travels across the heavens in unison with the sun. The best times for this star to be seen are early morning and late evening, at sunset.
Some of the legends about Dog Days are that during this time, the birds do not sing, and it’s best not to cultivate anything during this time in your garden.
One story states that no war should be fought during this period because the wounds inflicted will not heal. Another is that if it rains the first day of this period, it will rain the 40-odd days; and if it’s dry at the beginning, it will be dry for the duration of the 40-odd days.
Also, this is the hottest time of the year. Tempers are short during this time. It is not wise for a wife to nag her husband during Dog Days.
Many more tales and legends associate themselves with this period on our calendar. Some of these have proved to be true; others have gone unnoticed through the spans of time.
But whatever the season, or the time, it reaffirms the fact that God’s creation is without end, and the stars, the season and man himself play a very minor part overall.
(This column also carried an editor’s note that said, “This column, first published in 1975, is reprinted by request.”)
(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County, graduated from Sweet Water High School, served in the Korean War, lived for a time among Apache Indians, moved to Monroe County on June 28, 1964 and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. For years, Singleton’s column “Somewhere in Time” appeared in The Monroe Journal, and he wrote a lengthy series of articles about Monroe County that appeared in Alabama Life magazine. Some of his earlier columns also appeared under the heading of “Monroe County History: Did You Know?” He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)