Speak MY Piece: Indian Summer

Photo by Wiki user Cdnsrfr.

It is autumn! Ah, but have you noticed a lingering summer warmth, the brightest, blue sky, a gentle wisp of air on one or two days? I can tell you the sun was so warm on my face as I took it all in standing on the steps of WBCB studios in Levittown. It was Oct.10.

So this is Indian summer, I thought.

Not everyone knows what Indian summer means and some never heard it said, but it means, to me, unusually warm weather as late as November, bright sunny or hazy days and chilly nights. That’s what they say. Actually, it’s a feeling, a recollection of days on the beach, or in the park, a summer-like feeling after season’s end.

When I was a child I heard “it’s Indian summer” whenever we enjoyed an unusually warm day late in October or early November — and the new school clothes were uncomfortable. My Dad had a lot of information when I was young that he frequently imparted as we sat on the back porch. He thought it had something to do with a late harvest, hunting, and the Indian people who knew how to work with Mother Nature, he said.

Later, I would learn that Native Americans absolutely lived in harmony with nature, planting and harvesting in tune with the moon – the harvest moon. I did a little research and was not surprised at several other explanations, including an unlikely connection with India. I believe my Dad was close on the harvest theory.

Indian summer has been described as being “hazy” or smoky, with unusually mild weather that comes as late as November in North America. It’s described this way in a book published in 1778 by the French-American farmer Michel-Guillaume Jean de Grevecoeur. – Letters from an American Farmer.

Indeed, the author-farmer may have adopted some of the Native American skills described in his book, including peak planting times that coincide with the phases of the moon. And he noted the “Indians” would burn grassy areas to prepare the soil for the next year’s harvest, creating an Indian summer of haze and warm air. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to a few more days like Thursday – then the snow can fall.