In England, nine times out of ten, as soon as the children return to school, from their Summer holidays, in early September, we experience a brief Indian Summer. This often starts the second week in September and can last for a few weeks. Occasionally it happens later in early October. Of course really it is early Autumn by then, even though British Summertime does not officially finish until the last weekend of October.
This Indian Summer is rarely as hot as actual summer days can be, but it is sometimes. The difference, though, is that the mornings and evenings are cool and may even be cold. There is one other huge difference also and that is that the evenings are drawing in. Gone are those long endless days of Summer as, in Autumn, each evening sees daylight disappearing earlier and earlier and the early morning sun not showing its face until much later in the day.
So what actually is an Indian Summer?
Well strictly speaking the term Indian Summer defines a pleasant period occurring at the end of something. In this context the phrase may be used to describe a period of time, say at the end of a term of office, for example, in government.
However, it is usually used in relation to the weather. In America it would appear that the timing of an Indian Summer is a little different to the UK. In the USA an Indian Summer is usually a period of unseasonable warm weather in Autumn, once the first really cold weather has been felt. In the UK properly cold weather does not need to have occurred. As long as unseasonable warm weather happens in Autumn, for a period of time, it will be called an Indian Summer.
An Indian Summer though may not be a single occurrence. Some years the weather will change so drastically that Autumn can see more than one Indian Summer. With Global warming and climate change, most countries are experiencing unusual weather for the particular time of year, on and off throughout the year. This has resulted in Indian Summers happening in Winter.
There are more than one or two ideas as to where the term Indian Summer came from. One thing though is that it is thought to have been used in the USA from as far back as the 1700s. In America Summer can be a scene of thunderstorms and hurricanes and Winter can see heavy snow falls and exceptionally cold weather. Any period of calm, warm and pleasant weather that occurs in between these two seasons will, therefore, be called an Indian Summer.
Despite the fact that an Indian Summer may see cold mornings and evenings, to my mind, it is often better than those Summer months. The changing colours of the leaves in Autumn, the sunlight low in the sky, the rustle of falling leaves and the last blast of a Summer garden can make an Indian Summer much more beautiful, overall.