We wish we could sail away, away from the dog days of summer. The hottest time of the year meant for, well, meant for doing nothing, if you can help it. We called author Jon Katz to ask him about this. He's written a book called "Dog Days." He says get up in the cool, early morning to grasp the original meaning of this phrase - dog days of summer. He says it dates back to the ancient Romans.

Mr. JON KATZ (Author, "Dog Days"): They noticed that Sirius, the Dog Star, rose with the sun from July 3rd to August 11th. Sirius, of course, is the brightest star in the sky. And so they assume that because these two stars were together, they were in league to create what they call the days of great heat.

So I, of course, decided to test this theory and at 4 o'clock in the morning went right up a mountain behind - above the farm with a couple of dogs. And it was amazing. I was mesmerized to see that this is true, that this incredibly bright star rises right with the sun during this period. And for me, the idea has become fusing the two.

SEABROOK: I love the idea of the dog days being linked actually to the stars and then afterwards to the heat.

Mr. KATZ: Especially in our country, which is sort of a hyperactive place. I, of course, live in a farm with animals - with cows and donkeys and sheep and dogs. And all of the animals, not just the dogs, share this particular interesting way of accepting the heat. They just all find a place to settle, usually in the shade and they center down. And it's actually been very helpful to me because I think that's one of the things the animals have taught me a bit about how to do.

SEABROOK: I was just thinking how they're so much smarter from the way we act in cities and across our country where everyone is working.

Mr. KATZ: Everyone is working, and everyone is busy, and everyone is worried, and everyone is in the cell phones, everyone's was on the - checking their e-mail. This morning I left the farm. And I saw the cows have settled down on the tree at the top of the hill. The donkeys are under the feet or the sheep are in the poll barn. The dogs were on the garden in their cool spots, and nobody was moving. And I thought - they know how do to it. They have accepted it and have found a good way to deal with it.

SEABROOK: Jon Katz, thank you so much.

Mr. KATZ: Thank you very much. I enjoyed it.

SEABROOK: Jon Katz's most recent book is "Dog Days: Dispatches from Bedlam Farm."

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.