Indian Summer

When European settlers first came across the phenomenon in America it became known as the Indian’s Summer. The haziness of the Indian Summer weather was caused by prairie fires deliberately set by Native American tribes. It was the period when First Nations/Native American peoples harvested their crops.

You may hear the term used to refer to any period of unseasonably warm weather in autumn, but traditionally, “Indian summer” referred to something more specific. Here are the criteria for a true Indian summer:

  • As well as being warm, the atmosphere during Indian summer is hazy or smoky, there is no wind, the barometer is standing high, and the nights are clear and chilly.
  • A moving, cool, shallow polar air mass is converting into a deep, warm, stagnant anticyclone (high pressure) system, which has the effect of causing the haze and large swing in temperature between day and night.
  • The time of occurrence is important: The warm days must follow a spell of cold weather or a good hard frost, but also be before first snowfall.
  • The conditions described above also must occur between St. Martin’s Day (November 11) and November 20. For over 200 years, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has adhered to the saying, “If All Saints’ (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin’s brings out Indian summer.”

Most certainly there is a real reason for the etymology of the term “Indian Summer” and for the meaning behind it. The overall conclusion however  is that no one knows the real reason.  Frankly some of the suggested word history is preposterous, a reflection of what Walt Disney or McDonald’s might produce for a saccharin audience.

But the indisputable and universal resolve is that “Indian Summer” is not only unfailingly exotic but also continually enhancing. I won’t say that today was the perfect Indian Summer based upon the prerequisites listed above but I it is uncommonly warm, there is in part the proviso fog, people walking and cycling are dressing accordingly, car windows are open, the azure skies mixed with fluffy white and menacing grey clouds afford a romantic canvas for the awakening fall colours.

Meanwhile I too have the decided privilege (upon which I gleefully reflected when removing myself from the virginal lair mid-morning) of being shamefully and unhesitatingly self-approving. Maybe even smug to the point of alarm. The transition of my “Being” from a dearthful old fogey to a rejuvenated Sybarite and bon vivant is hugely welcome. For an inexplicable reason I feel as though I were watching the sporadic descent of pinballs in a sloping pinball machine; with all the bumpers, bells and whistles along the way. Perhaps the unexpected fertility and agreeableness of the amendment has sparked a native wariness. It is after all an Indian Summer!

Pinball is an arcade entertainment machine in which a ball careens around the machine’s interior, hitting various lights, bumpers, ramps, and other targets depending on the design. The object of the game is to score as many points as possible by hitting these targets and making various shots with flippers before the ball is lost, either through gutters at the sides of the machine or through the center drain usually situated at the bottom of it. Most pinball machines will give you one ball per turn (excluding bonuses), and the game ends after the ball(s) from the last turn are lost.