I always thought the expression ‘dog days of summer’ referred to the hot sultry days of late summer when dogs would just lie around and pant in a cool shady spot as it was too hot and muggy to do anything else but actually, it goes back hundreds of years and is related to astronomy. During the latter part of July and into August the sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius (which is the brightest star visible from any part of the earth) and is part of the constellation Canis Major or the Greater Dog. Sirius is often referred to as the ‘Dog Star’. Hence, the term dog days of summer. Regardless, most people associate it with those ‘lazy hazy crazy days of summer’.
Baby Boomers remember those lazy crazy hazy days of summer with fun such as running through an old sprinkler in the backyard, shouting and laughing, and slipping and sliding in the wet grass. Simple joys for a simpler time.
Recently I saw an article advertising mid century vintage furniture from the 1950s. Suddenly I had become “vintage” and perhaps even an antique! When someone talked about vintage my mind was always drawn back to the Victorian era or early 1900s.
Now, suddenly my era is considered vintage or maybe it has been for quite some time and I am just realizing that. Either way it’s a gentle reminder that along with all the other baby boomers we are a vintage breed.
The other day while out shopping I was sure I saw someone I know which was impossible because I knew for a fact they were not even in the same city. It got me to thinking of ‘doppelganger’ which means someone who looks exactly like you (or someone else) and who isn’t your twin. It is actually a German word ‘double walker’ and has been referred to as seeing a ghost of yourself or someone else.
If you google the word you will come across lots of interesting stories of people who claim they have seen someone who looks just like them.
There are lots of interesting theories and stories about doppelgangers. Some think that if you see a double of yourself it is bad luck while others think it may be proof of another dimension. All I can say is that it is rather disconcerting to see someone who is the exact image of yourself or of someone else!
THEN: Thinking 60 and 70-year-olds are old.
NOW: Thinking 90-year-olds are old.
THEN: Watching a movie or listening to music and knowing the performer.
NOW: Who the heck is that?
THEN: Dining out late.
NOW: Booking the early bed special.
THEN: Being in your 30s and thinking you were an adult and mature.
NOW: Seeing someone in their 30s and thinking how young they are.
THEN: Think nothing of walking an hour to the store.
NOW: After 5 minutes of walking needing to stop and rest.
THEN: Not knowing many people who have passed away.
NOW: Not another one.
THEN: Buying clothes that are in current fashion and trendy.
NOW: How comfortable is this?
THEN: Sleeping in all morning on your day off.
NOW: Getting up at 4:00 a.m. to use the bathroom and can’t get back to sleep.
THEN: Love going camping in a tent and roughing it.
NOW: Preferring to stay home and sleep in your own bed.
As September approaches I remember growing up in Vancouver, Canada. September was always my favourite month. Beautiful warm days with cool crisp evenings and just the hint of wood smoke from bonfires in the air. Leaves slowly changing color to gold and red against a vivid blue sky. Brand new notebooks for school with smooth empty pages waiting to be filled. Looking forward to interesting new t.v. shows and the return of old favourites after a summer of reruns.
Then, on September 3, 1999, suddenly it was no longer my favourite month. That was the day my mother passed away at the age of 72. She had been in frail health since a heart attack at the age of 65 and so it was not unexpected. That did not lessen the grief of her passing, however, and after that I would always associate September with that loss. Every year as September approached I would feel more acutely that sense of grief and sadness.
But then a funny thing happened. About 10 years after my mother’s death I began to notice that I was getting back a bit of my love for September. Maybe it’s true that time does help to heal wounds? I began looking forward again to the cooler September nights and the smell of autumn in the air, the beauty of the gold and red leaves. Maybe my heart was healing? I still think of my mother every day but there is less grief and more remembering certain moments – when she held my son for the first time, how she loved the water and the color blue, how she would play Frank Sinatra on the old record player over and over and how much she loved our trip to Hawaii and sitting and watching the sunset over the ocean. Now, I don’t dread the month of September and the anniversary of her passing though of course on that date I am reminded of the loss and miss her. I can enjoy though the beauty that September brings, the flight of the birds overhead as they wing their way south, watching young children so excited getting ready for their first day of school along with the smells and scents of the coming autumn.
One thing you come to realize as you get older is that summers have changed. Instead of looking forward to carefree days of no school and freedom you find that you are still responsible for paying the bills and meeting your responsibilities. You tend to look back instead of forward and time seems to move so quickly instead of the endless summer days of your youth.
You find you don’t have the excitement at summer’s end of a new school year and brand new books and meeting new teachers.
Life is different as you age and I’ve learned one of the secrets is to accept change and embrace it and that time does not stand still.
Well, it is that time of year when many people pack up the car or RV and hit the road, looking for that perfect campsite to get away from the noise and crowds of the city. I used to really enjoy camping in my younger days but now not so much. Swatting mosquitoes and not sleeping in my own comfy bed has somehow lost its magic. I know lots of people love going camping and that’s great for them but these achy arthritic bones do like a comfortable bed to sleep.
I was talking to someone recently about camping and the subject of haunted campgrounds came into the conversation. Seems a lot of people have had somewhat unsettling experiences while out camping in the woods or at a remote lake, of hearing strange unexplained noises, seeing shadows walk past your tent at night or the feeling of being watched. I remember my mother telling me the story of when she was in her late teens which would have been in the 1940s, she and a couple of friends decided to spend a few nights at a small cabin down at Birch Bay in Washington State. They lived in Vancouver, Canada so it was an easy drive of just a couple of hours. The first two nights they were awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of someone chopping wood right outside their cabin. They looked outside but no one was there. Apparently, later they were told that many people who stayed at that cabin would hear the sound of someone chopping wood outside their door every night with no evidence of the person or the wood. My mother and her friends decided to pack up and head home early, feeling quite spooked by this strange occurrence!
On the positive side, camping does give you a chance to be out in the fresh air away from the noise and pollution of the city. It is lovely to hear the sounds of nature – birds singing, the sound of the water rushing along in the creek, the breeze rustling in the trees and to relax around the campfire.