Has it really been more than two weeks since the Fourth of July?
This is the first summer since 1989 that I have had an official summer break, because it’s my first year back as a public school teacher since 1990.
I spent 13 years teaching and, truthfully, I was getting burned out. But, despite having a couple of excellent career changes during the intervening years, I had started yearning to get back into the classroom again.
Although the vast majority of teachers are in the profession because they love to help kids to learn, there is also something to the old adage that the three best things about teaching are June, July, and August. But school seems to start much earlier these days than when I first started teaching; there aren’t very many school-less days in August any more.
And that brings me back to my lament about the Fourth of July being over. July 4 is just about the half-way point in the summer break. But the first half, the time during June, seems to move by slowly enough. The latter half zooms by very quickly.
At least that’s the way it seems. I guess it’s because I’m getting used to being out of school now, but in early June, it was new and different.
Anyway, we have entered the longest stretch of the year during which there are no holidays or significant observances.
In fact, August is the only month of the year that lacks anything resembling a holiday. Even April has April Fools Day. August has nothing - zilch!
Not only is the month of August holiday poor, it connects up with the last 3-and-a-half weeks of July, which also offers nothing of significance besides stifling summertime heat and humidity.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like summer. Most people do. You get to go outside without having to bundle up. You get to go swimming and picnicking. And most vacations are taken in the summer.
But still, there are no holidays.
Although it is not a cause for celebration, that period of heat and humidity in mid-summer does have a name. They call it Dog Days, the period of time running from July 3 to August 15.
The ancients believed that this time of year was so hot because the “dog star,” Sirius, which is the brightest star in the sky during the winter, is in conjunction with the sun during much of July and August. They reasoned that Sirius must be adding its heat to that of the sun.
They were wrong, of course.
Since there are no holidays in August, it would be nice to have a formal celebration on August 15, signifying the end of Dog Days, the most uncomfortable time of the summer.
I know it’s a stretch. But I’m grasping at straws here. Teachers and students need one more summer celebration before having to crack the books again.
Years ago, that holiday was Labor Day, which typically occurred on the Monday following the start of school.
That’s not the case any more, so celebrating the end of Dog Days was the only thing I could come up with.