The transition between Summer and Autumn is always an interesting one. Part of you is still up for the long days of summer with hot hikes and cool pools, and part of you is craving the days when you cozy up on the couch in a big sweater with a good book. The greenery on hikes is gorgeous – but fall foliage can be so striking! This time of year, the cool misty mornings that give away to still hot sunny afternoons can cause what-to-wear problems for fashionistas, farmers and hikers alike (the answer of course is layering).
It can also be a little tricky mentally and emotionally. When exactly do you choose to pack up your summer clothes, finally surrendering to the inevitable? You’re now having to adjust to getting up in the dark, feeling the quiet and cool, maybe even hearing the geese- as I did this morning – in the dark, and then sweating in the afternoon. How do you feel about this? Are you sad to see summer go but also sort of excited for fall and it’s events and activities? Who doesn’t love a good pumpkin patch and cider donuts? And how about those times you are ready and excited for fall, pack all your light clothes away and then – Indian Summer.
Ah. Indian Summer. I’ve always thought the phrase sounded so magical. Even as a child I would hope for an Indian summer, mainly just because it sounded so wonderful. So, what exactly is an Indian Summer? Where did the name come from? I can’t stand not knowing things, so here is what I found out.
Though I did sort of know what an Indian Summer was, I wasn’t entirely positive on all the requirements. It is a time of dry, warm weather, unusual for mid – late Autumn. It also is characterized by being hazy, misty or smoky. It also needs to happen after a killing frost. As far as I’ve found it is a term mostly used in the North East. It should also be defined as when mothers have to go re-open the boxes where they packed their children’s summer clothes :-). Interestingly, it is also defined as a period of success and happiness occurring later in someone’s life. This of course only makes the phrase seem even more magical to me!
As for the name itself, the etymology isn’t completely know. There are some guesses, but no hard evidence of when it was first used. The earliest recording of it is from a letter written in 1778, in which the writer refers to the current weather being what is called an Indian Summer, implying that local people were already using it. A popular theory is that it originates from settlers seeing the Native Americans using that time to hunt, taking advantage of the climate to stock up for winter. The mist and haze that is present gave good coverage for hunting, and animals were out more due to the increased temperatures. A less popular theory has to do with ships that would sail across the Indian Ocean in Autumn, and had marks on their hulls for how much they could carry during the period of unusually dry weather. The lines on the ships were marked I.S. – allegedly for Indian Summer – and showed how heavy the boat could sit in the water. That seems like a bit of a stretch to me. Yet another theory is that New Englanders would leave their stockades less heavily armed when the weather turned cooler, because there were less attacks from Native Americans during colder months. Then, when it suddenly turned warm, there would be an ambush – and so they called it Indian Summer.
Wherever the name came from, it is still pretty neat. I’m not sure if we will have one this year, but if we do, I hope you find the magic in it and let it also be a period of success and happiness – at whatever point you are in your life!