Glancing down at my car thermometer, I saw a number I’d never seen before. 101. As in 101 degrees.
As soon as I got out of the car, the heat hit me, like a blast furnace shooting hot dry air at me. People who live in the east will say things like, “But it’s a dry heat, so it’s not so bad.” Don’t kid yourself, 100 degrees is hot no matter where you are.
When are the Dog Days?
These are the days I truly loathe. The “dog days” of summer arrive earlier in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. As a kid, I used to think dog days referred to those hot days when a dog with their fur coat panted miserably in their struggle to deal with the heat.
Turns out “dog days” has nothing to do with our 4-legged friends, and everything to do with astronomy. The Dog Days refers to the time of summer when the dog star, Sirius, appeared to rise just before the sun, which is in late July.
For most of North America, that makes sense that it is often the hottest time of the year. But here in Colorado, it’s not true, according to official records from NOAA. Our hottest time of the year is in fact in June, and yesterday was proof positive of that. Denver tied the all-time heat record yesterday of 105 degrees. That’s like Las Vegas type heat.
The Double-Edged Sword
On days like yesterday, I feel so lucky to being living at 8,200 feet up in the mountains. As I left the city of Boulder, I watched as the thermometer dropped while driving up Boulder Canyon. By the time I hit Boulder Falls, 2,000 feet up, it had dropped to a respectable 86 degrees. And by the time I reached our house, 79 degrees! It’s these kind of days that make everyone want to live in the mountains.
But my joy was short-lived. After making dinner, I took the dogs for a walk. As soon as I walked out the door, the smell of smoke hit me. The haze hung over the mountains, obscuring their snow-capped peaks. I panicked for a second — did a fire start nearby? Instantly, I felt a flashback to two years ago, when the Cold Springs Wildfire started. Remembering the orange color of the sky as I scrambled to put our pets in the car and grab our belongings before evacuating, I experienced a PTSD moment.
Desperate for information, I texted our neighbor. Then I ran into her walking by with her dog. Turns out the smoke is from a wildfire burning on the other side of the divide near Winter Park. But the smell of smoke is a stark reminder that these hot dry days can bring about fire quickly.
So for me, these dog days can’t be over soon enough. Bring on the monsoonal rains, and the cold nights of lows in the 40s and 30s. Enough of these clear blue skies and hot sun baking the landscape. My dreams are filled with gray skies, and torrents of rain.