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The Dog Days of Summer

The Dog Days of Summer

Molly writes...

It was a hot July here in North Eastern part of the United States. One of the hottest on record, they say. I think it is fascinating how affected we are by weather. I think that is why I enjoy living in a place where we experience very extreme changes throughout the year. It really challenges my routines, frames my memories and encourages me to explore the ever-changing landscapes. People around here love to talk weather. It is almost ceremonial in a way. It makes me laugh how much we ooh and aahh and then whine about the daily temperature and precipitation. As it turns out, this behavior is as old as it gets with us humans. We have been sculpting our lives and survival around the weather for as far back as we have been able to learn about.

I was recently out for an early morning run on one of our hotter days that we have had, I thought I was avoiding the heat but it turned to be pretty hot. The air was so thick that I felt as though I was practically swimming. My mind started wandering about how our activities this time of year are different. Many people take vacation time or travel to places where there is water. It is not uncommon this time of year for businesses to close down and of course most school age children are on a break from school. It is quiet, people are moving at a slower pace, and it is hot.

Sometimes you might hear people refer to this time as the Dog Days of Summer. And, because I was recently thinking about how we react to this time year, I was puzzled by why we say this. Well it turns out it doesn’t have much to with dogs at all … well not exactly anyway.

According to Wikipedia: The dog days or dog days of summer are the hot, sultry days of summer. They were historically the period following the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius, which Greek and Roman astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck. They are now taken to be the hottest, most uncomfortable part of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

How fascinating. I guess sometimes we just need to let the stars talk to us … and perhaps during these last dog days of summer we just need to slow it down … and pick up a pen and tangle. No rush, no expectations, just let the ink tell the story.

And to my friends in Australia, you can read my previous blog about Winter Whine.

So, my tangling friends, how does the weather or time of year affect your creative flow and tangling practice? Let us know and we will send some Zentangle goodies to a randomly chosen commenter.

Molly Hollibaugh


  • With no air conditioning at our house but a fan, the dog days send me to either the library or the food court at the mall. I grab my tangling supplies and head off to tangle for a few hours. This usually grabs the attention of folks. "What are you doing? They ask. It’s always great to share my passion with new friends!

    MaryAnn S-D on

  • Dear Molly

    It was very interesting to read about your discription of your hot days as I have never heard about it. Here in South Africa we have about 2 to 3 months of winter that gets cold but not the cold you know. For us though it is cold and on that days I will sit in the sun with my face lifted to sky and absorb the rays almost like a lizard. Summer is way to hot to do that and I think we scale down in winter with activity. Our lives revolve around summer. Our homes are build for summer, we love to braai and swim, we like to be outside and we become active in summer.
    Creative wise weather doesn’t really affect my creativity, and it depends on my mood but if I have to be honest? I would rather sit in the sun on a cold winters day with hot coffee and a good book. Luckely summer is almost here to become creative again.

    Marizaan Van Beek on

  • The heavy monsoon rains 🌧️ in Mumbai, along with a mini digital detox, have done wonders for my Zentangle practice ✏️. Having had a tangling pause (of several years – I don’t know why I ever stopped 🙈) I’ve now come back to it, refreshed and renewed. I love to tangle 💗 for a few minutes before bed on busy weekdays, as it helps to clear my head ready for sleep 😴

    Claire Warner on

  • It has been really humid this year! More than usual, don’t you think? I’m in Virginia and love to camp but its been too humid. Outdoors and Zentangle mornings go so well together. So, alas, this year, morning coffee and air conditioning are good, too!

    Deb Myers CZT18 on

  • The “Dog Days of Summer” makes me think of my sister who would hide under our big, square, coffee table with our family dog during one of those “sudden thunderstorms.” I actually forgot about that until I read Molly’s post. I on the other hand have always enjoyed thunderstorms and the rain. It seems like a storm makes you stop and reflect. I like the safe feeling of being inside and especially like tangling at that time. Thank you Molly, for your “living in the moment” reflection.

    Jeanne on

  • I enjoyed your post especially the history of the term “dog days of summer “. I am reminded of a quote that goes something like this:

    Whether the weather be sunny or whether the weather be not, whether the weather be stormy or whether the weather be hot, we will weather the weather whatever the weather, whether we like it or not. Thanks.

    Leslie Hancock on

  • I always thought it was because the heat makes me want to dig a cool bed in the garden and let my tongue loll just like

    my best furry friend!

    Mary D'Angelo on

  • I have cut down on the number of days I work a week and become “semi-retired. This is the first time ever that I have had time to sit in the morning and enjoy a cup of coffee, tangle a little, and watch the bunnies play in their house outside the window.

    I don’t know if it is due to the weather but I sure am feeling blessed and content!

    Betsey Youngs on

  • Our dog days here in North Carolina have me tangling in the dark—with the shades down!—and with a hand towel next to my tile for sweaty hands! One day I was looking forward to tangling on our screened porch. After a few minutes, I went back inside. I realized the paper was actually softening from the steamy humidity!

    Jennifer Sparrow on

  • We have had a few days of nearly perfect weather in Wisconsin…before this week. With the house opened up, the breezes through the house and the calm of the weather, I am more productive all around, but especially with my Zentangle practice. I don’t want to lock up the house, because we have to at night. And so my Boston, Lola, and I stay up late in the quiet, she dozing and me tangling.

    Sara Harding, CZT 12 on

  • This year I had air conditioning installed in my studio. It has made all the difference.

    Susan Arnsten-Russell on

  • I’d actully never heard this expression before moving to Norway age 22. Then I read a book about “Hundedagene” (The Dog days) which here in Norway is between the 23rd July and the 23rd August. There is a lot of superstition attached to this time of the year. Dogs are said to easily go mad because of the warmth and food can go bad quickly because of warmth and flies. It is also said that if it’s lovely weather on the 23rd of July the rest of the Dog days will be the same. If it rains on that day, we can expect the following month to be rainful. I’ve really never noticed if this is the case. 🤣 I took a couple of small tables down near the beach on the Trondheim fjord at the weekend with some tiles (under plexiglass) and info about Zentangle. It was very pleasant sitting in the sun tangling with the sea air caressing my back. However I must admit that when it gets hot and sticky the best place to tangle is inside.

    Debbie Raaen on

  • I’ve always heard the dog days of summer referred to as later in the summer or early fall when it is super hot. As someone who loves the heat and cannot stand the cold, I am always glad for the heat even if it could be unpleasant. I’m also a bike rider and bike through it as well, just as you Molly, ran through it.

    Your question spoke to me directly because next week when I teach my monthly Zentangle class, we will be tangling on seashells which I collected from the ocean. Of course this directly relates to the season. Because I teach a monthly class, it gives me the opportunity to always create classes related to the season or a holiday. Seashells are a perfect medium to work on in August.

    Mindy Shapiro on

  • Oh, I haven’t heard about dog days related to weather but as to be “the heaviest” or “hardest” time to go through. Here in Sweden, Stockholm, we also had a few veeery hot days. We are normally very happy for summer days with warm, sunny and stable weather because the Swedish summer days are never reliable so you have to be prepared for rain or cold. I believe RI and Stockholm has about the same climate?
    However, this summer I took my tangling bag to sit outside to do my tiles, so nice and relaxing BUT soon I felt it was too hot! I moved to the shade but finally it was even more relaxing to sit inside by the cooler!
    We are longing for warmth but too warm makes the brain slow though a swim in the sea at such times is marvelous! I wish the summer to be longer but I love the changes that we have for autumn, winter, spring and summer again!
    For me what’s so special in the summer is the light! You can sit outside tangling until midnight without lamps. The sun doesn’t go down! That’s fantastic! I wish you all a nice continuation of the rest of the summer!

    Annika Wiener on

  • In Spain we also live something similar, climate change is changing our customs. When it is very hot it is harder for me to start thinking and working, so it is much easier for me to take a tile, a micron and start drawing tangles without any expectation other than letting the mind flow. It’s summer drawing more (also because I’m on vacation), but it’s my time to create, freely, without pressure.

    Alicia on

  • I live in a city in the South of India where the weather ranges from hot to hottest for 9-10 months of the year. Using the air-conditioning long enough for the room to cool down helps with any task, tangling or work. I have a small desk that looks out on to a mango tree that hosts a few squirrels, crows and some other birds now and then. Afternoons are quiet and I find myself tangling then, or late into the night. For me, the quiet and solitude are more important than the weather – I can work around it with fans and air-conditioners.

    I think the whining about the weather is just a way for us to cool off. We all know we have to stick it out, complaining is a way to let off steam – and telling each other that the weather in my city is hotter/humid/more horrible than yours is a mildly competitive ritual that happens all the time!

    Sra on

  • Well, I live on the central coast of CA. I wrapped a light shawl on and went down to breakfast. I opened the paper to see the red hot weather map of the

    U S.. yes I moved here for the cool ocean breezes.

    Lisa Hoesing on

  • Well, the excessive humidity means the cursor doesn`t move as easily on my computer screen during the dog days, and I certainly don`t move as easily, or as often as I do on the more moderately temperatured days. Tangling in my favorite air-conditioned restaurant is one of the things I like doing best on dog days! I`ve just been learning Tomàs Padròs` All Stars pattern, and just love it! Thank heavens that this summer, the dog days in Montreal, Canada, have been broken up occasionally by more moderate cool and breezy days!

    Rosemary Turpin on

  • Thanks for the post. Dog days of summer, I hadn’t heard that expression for years and that is exactly what it is like in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. As things turned out this year I wont get home (U.K.) for a holiday this summer so have spent my days in the house with the air conditioner working overtime to keep the 48-50 degree C at bay. I never knew what heat was until I came here with my husband for his work. At the moment school is out, many people are away vacationing so here on the compound it is very quiet. It has been a perfect time to hide from the extreme heat and indulge in hours of creativity. Tangling absorbs me for hours and I am always surprised at the finished effect when I have let my pens do the walking. The extreme heat won’t subside for a few months yet but when it does, the windows are thrown open and the air conditioning goes to bed for a few months. Then I can sit in the garden and tangle in the fresh air and forget these dog days of summer until next year. Happy tangling everyone!!

    Allyson Perry on

  • There were certainly some hot days here in Massachusetts, which were not too fun. There have been some amazing sunsets, however. For me, tangling seems pretty unrelated to the weather and more to do with free time.

    Jessica M on

  • Loving these ‘dog days’ of summer Molly, and appreciating the sunshine and the rain storms that bring beautiful rainbows. I want to slow time down and enjoy tangling and the best sunshine days more than ever, before the leaves change here in NE Pennsylvania!!

    Alice Roche, CZT 29 on

  • I live in the Ohio River Valley (Cincinnati) where we have “weather you can wear” this time of year. I often refer to the “dog days of summer” but never looked it up – so thank you Molly for researching it. We’ve had hot and humid today as well as thunderstorms and finally some much needed rain. A great excuse and day to tangle. Think I see some cooling Msst in my future.

    Jo Diamantes on

  • Molly, I had foot surgery the Monday after CZT #34. Throughout my recuperation, I have been tangling two, three, four tiles a day. It has been hot, it has been dry, and it has been wet. As I am sitting inside, I am admiring the beauty of nature, all the colors of summer. I live right by Lake Erie, so we have been cooler for the most part (Lake Effect—breezes off the cooler temperatures of the lake water). Can’t wait to get outside and walk again, but enjoying all various tangles and seeing the effect of putting different ones together—making lots of mistangles too!

    Mary Kay Cass on

  • Like you, I love where I live because we experience extremes in weather year-around, and yet, I live almost at the opposite end of the country, the mountains of southwestern Colorado! It’s all a matter of perspective-just like all of our different ways, methods, materials and results of our Zentangle practice.,even though we all have received the same similar instructions in learning the Zentangle method. Being outside in nature, hiking to the tops of high mountain peaks, all inspire me to tangle as much as the turning aspen leaves in autumn and the soon-to-follow snowy peaks and trails of winter!

    Roberta Strickland on

  • In Central Illinois we have a mix of weather.

    So use to it that it does not effect my tangling.
    Any time I can I sit and tangle I do….it is the most relaxing thing I do. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Dog Days of Summer.

    Lyla McDaniel on

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