“Indian Summer”


After the frost, warmth returns. We are now in Indian Summer, that period between first frost and the true onset of winter. The name “Indian Summer” seems to be of contested origins. I was always told that the name came from the colonists’ observation that Native people intensified hunting and gathering during the quiet time leading up to winter. Subsistence practices in colder temperate climates require that as much food and wood be put away as possible before the freeze sets in, yet the simple fact that much food is perishable means that food must be stored as late in the season as possible. Indian summer is, therefore, one of the few uses of the term “Indian” that refers to our perseverance and foresight, rather than being derogatory. Continue reading

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High Holy Days

Each year, here in New England, Fall creeps down the mountains to the lakes and the ocean. A couple of weeks ago the weather was cool and damp, and our autumn color change was progressing rapidly. Then summer-like warmth and dryness returned and the change stopped abruptly, replaced by browning leaves and sudden leaf drop.

Something similar happened last year when, after a soggy first half of summer, drought set in. By mid-September we were pretty certain there would be no autumn color. Then, at the last moment, cool, rainy weather arrived saving the season. We’re hoping for another miraculous turnaround this year. Continue reading

Summer’s End

Another delightful late summer morning, one that feels much more like fall than summer. It’s fair time and school begins this week for most students; often, although not this year, this means days of sweltering heat that make school and fair challenging.

A couple of days ago I awoke to silence. Crickets still fiddle in the evening and goldfinches chirp as they take seeds from our patches of small sunflowers. Otherwise the din of summer has passed, leaving a strange quiet. Continue reading