According to Wikipedia, an Indian summer is a heat wave that occurs in the autumn. It refers to a period of above-normal temperatures (70 degrees), accompanied by dry and hazy conditions, usually after there has been a killing frost. The North American Indians – native Americans – depended upon periods of fine, quiet, sunny weather at this time of year to complete their harvest to see them through the winter. Thus, the name.
We in the Northeast section of the United States happen to be in the middle of a gorgeous Indian summer right now. These are perfect beach days with comfortably warm temperatures and sunny blue skies, not that I’ve had time to go to the beach. As the massive flocks of birds fly overhead as if they were in an Alfred Hitchcock movie, heading for the South for winter, they seem to pause to rest on our electrical lines. Maybe they’re a little confused about whether to come or go since the weather is beautifully comfortable right here, right now. And although I enjoy all things autumn including chilly sweater days, apples and pumpkin picking for pies and the return to hardy meals of soup, chili and stews, I have to say that I’m enjoying this last burst of summer before the cold sets in.
As kids, my Mom used to have us looking forward to the warm days of Indian Summer as if it were a magical happening like a blue moon or eclipse. Why? I’m not really sure. But she had us anticipating this enchanting time of year as if it were Christmas. “I wonder when Indian summer will come?” she used to say. “We won’t put the summer clothes away quite yet because Indian summer is coming soon.” On and on she went. And as we trudged off to school in our heavy sweaters, we knew that the special unseasonably warm days were coming when we’d be able to wear our shorts and summer clothes for one more brief time. Sort of like a last hurrah. Looking back I guess it was kind of weird.
Eventually the chill of autumn and then winter will return. But I still look forward to Indian summer like a kid, and now that it’s happening, I can’t help but think of my Mom and how much she loved it. I’ll never be sure of why and for what reason she loved it so much since she’s been gone for quiet some time. But in any case, it’s a warm reminder of her.