Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Dog Days Are NOT Over

It's hard not to notice the intense heat wave and severe drought Wisconsin has been having this summer! Every day feels hotter than the next, and the heat doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. Despite this year's intensity, this summer heat isn't necessarily anything new; in fact, people have been experiencing hot, hot days for centuries, and even came up with a name: Dog Days.

What Is a 'Dog Day?'

'Dog days' is a term used to refer to the hottest, most humid days of summer. For us in the northern hemisphere, this usually happens during the months of July and August. These are the days where even the thought of stepping outside makes you sweat!

The term 'dog days' comes from the ancient belief that the dog star, Sirius, had something to do with the hot weather. This was because of the fact that Sirius became visible around the same time that summer temperatures began to rise. The star looks to be very close to the sun, so it wasn't uncommon for people to associate the two together. In ancient Rome, Dog Days were originally the days when Sirius rose just before or along with the sunrise. The ancient Egyptians associated the appearance of Sirius with the flooding of the Nile River.

Things to Do

While Wisconsin might be in the middle of some serious (and Sirius) Dog Days right now, that should not discourage you from still getting outside! Enjoy our area's lakes and rent a canoe, kayak, or paddle boat for a different view of the city. The UW Arboretum and Olbrich Botanical Gardens both have amazing opportunities for shady tours, walking, and volunteering. The Henry Vilas Zoo, the Children's Museum, the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center, and the UW Geology Museum all offer you a great way to get out of the house and learn about the natural world, but still stay cool in the air conditioned exhibits. Mornings and evenings are great times to enjoy these sites' grounds as well!

Kids cooling off in the marsh at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center
Remember to wear lots of sunscreen whenever you're in the sun, and be sure to drink water so you don't get dehydrated. Heed the heat advisories and keep alert for early signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Take a dip in a lake, river, or pool, or play water games with your little ones. Try to stay away from dark colors and tight clothing as they are more prone to trapping heat; lighter colors will reflect heat better and keep you cooler. You can still enjoy the outdoors, but with this extreme hot weather you can never be too careful!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nature Net Passport

With half of summer already over, don't forget to pick up a Nature Net Passport for your kids to complete! It features 16 great Nature Net locations with special activities unique to the site and ideas for exploring each one. You can print them out or pick one up at any one of our locations. The goal is to make it to every site before the summer. Stamp your Nature Passport at each location - just like a real passport! Fun facts, journal entries, and drawing spaces allow for an educational, interactive, and memorable experience for your kids. Don't miss out on this great program!

Ringo Raccoon

For more information about the Nature Net Passport click here.