2007.07.22 Look! It's a sun dog!

Written by David Green.


There’s nothing like a good sun dog to make you think about football. Actually, I’m talking about football practice. Every time I see a sun dog, I think about practice down at Wakefield Park.

I thought about that while driving home from Wauseon late Wednesday afternoon, I was heading west on U.S. 20 and reached the point just past Chesterfield where the road drops down. The vista opens up and you can see for miles. It makes you think about Route 20 snaking its way all across America to Newport, Oregon.

I looked up and there it was—a single sun dog to the right of the sun.

It happened again friday when I was leaving for work and walking toward the city parking lot. one more sun dog, this time to the left of the sun.

that made two in one week, but it wasn’t the end. At the homecoming game Saturday afternoon I noticed another one then spotted its mate on the other side of the sun. Is the world going to the sun dogs or what?

Let’s have a quick show of hands—how many people know what I’m talking about? I was afraid of that. Look, its all a matter of refraction. But what’s refraction? You know about reflection, refraction is when light is bent or refracted. When light passes through ice crystals, some interesting things happen, such as halos around the sun or moon. those high cirrus clouds are made of little six sided ice crystal. the ice bends the light rays and a halo appears.

When the clouds aren’t solid across the sun, you sometimes get little pieces of rainbow rather than a whole halo. Those little bits of brilliance are called sun dogs or mock suns. Sometimes you see a dog on only one side of the sun; another time you get matching dogs on both sides.

I had to do a little searching to find out why they’re called sun dogs. According to Jerry Dennis in “It’s Raining Frogs and Fishes,” those little rainbow blobs sometimes show a long horizontal ray of white light sticking out at the end like a dog’s tail.

I don’t see sun dogs very often. maybe they’re not all that common or maybe it’s a matter of my geography. There’s a large house and a few nice maples across the street that block out most of the late afternoon sun.

And then there’s the football connection. You know how things stick in your head for years and years. useless garbage that ought to be thrown away and replaced with more practical data, such as getting the correct names of homecoming court members on the fron t page of the paper.

the football connection leads back to an October afternoon in 1967. Ken Rollins was the coach and the might bulldogs were on their way to ne of the worst seasons in history.

It was one of those mostly sunny afternoons with some high cirrus clouds in the western sky. I was getting back to my feet after missing my blocking assignment and allowing quarterback Jim Brink to get creamed by kent Jarrell.

and there they were—the most brilliant set of sun dogs a person could hope for. It was hard for a future weatherman to keep from looking at them...until Coach Rollins threatened physical punishment beyond what was already taking place.

Twenty-nine years late and I still think of football practice whenever I see a sun dog. It’s not exactly the best memory, but its worth it just to spot one of those celestial pooches.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016