Dog Days of Summer: 

For years when I'd hear this expression a nostalgic image would come to mind: my old Golden retriever, Sandy, taking a nap on a sultry day under our umbrella of a white pine tree. As I recently learned though, "Dog Days of Summer" goes back to the Greeks' Canis Major, constellation. Here, Orion, the Hunter's Dog, Sirius rises during mid-summer at early dawn like the sun — at least in the Northern hemisphere. Not all is sunny though. As Homer's Illiad describes: 

Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky
On summer nights, star of stars,
Orion's Dog they call it, brightest
Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat
And fevers to suffering humanity.

I agree. And while humanity is indeed in the throes of suffering these days,  it's a more traditional period associated in our culture with "lethargy, inactivity, or indolence." 

So why the hay barrels?

Unaware of Sirius during the rising sun, I'm once again reminded it's mid-summer when we mow our fields. Well, not quite "we". I just call my ol'time Yankee friend, Bill Milligan who trudges along from a few miles away in his red tractor that probably dates back to the 1950's... His Alford home, like ours, goes back a couple of centuries. In Bill's case it's been in his family for generations.  

I love the scent of our fields after they've been mowed. However, it doesn't compare in beauty to the expansive hay fields just up the road. Year after year, sensually curved hay barrels seem to appear overnight. Sadly, I miss the "rolling process". Fortunately though, the barrels are not covered with that shiny white, tight fitting plastic... Call them giant marshmallows.

This year while biking by, two barrels suddenly caught my eye. Here they were joined like a married couple. There's just enough space for them to breathe.

And couldn't this be called earth art?


Playing around later on my computer the structure and texture of a hay barrel inspired me to also play with colors and tones. While it's on my computer the images conjure up another era.


And in a couple of months we'll meet this guy also down the road: