Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Morning Thanks--Indian summer

Listen. Here's the story. Tomorrow, 77 degrees. I ought to write it out--"seventy-seven degrees." Don't charge through those words, read it again, slowly. Savor it. 

And Sunday, eighty. Seriously. 80 degrees. 

If this is global warming, bring it on. I'm in.

A Minnesota weatherman on Monday already called it "Indian Summer," a term, a phrase, of unknown origins, although those who research such things believe it had its birth as ordinary usage with those killjoy Calvinists at Massachusetts Bay. If so, my own pointy hat is off to 'em. 

Seriously, Wikipedia claims that the first mention of "Indian Summer" occurs in literature about the time of the American Revolution, but that particular usage suggests it was already in common use. You might think--as I did--that it's rather unlike white folks to grant our Native friends such a warm honor. Nice of us, actually. After all, what's not to love about "Indian summer"?

Don't get too magnanimous. In Europe, where there are no "Indians," this time of year goes by a variety of names, none of them too sweet. "A warm period in autumn is called "Altweibersommer" (literally "old women's summer"), or something similar, in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lithuania, Hungary, Finland, and many Slavic-language countries," saith Wikipedia. And variations are rather similarly unkind: "grandma's summer," "poorman's summer," or "gypsy summer," a grouping which does put "Indian summer" into a rather unsavory class, I guess. Rats.

I've always thought "Indian Summer" a taste of heaven, sweetness when you least expect it. And I do have a bone to pick with that Minnesota weatherman because I think he's thoughtlessly premature. In my book, we have to have lived through some ugliness before we get this last sweet breath we call "Indian Summer"; and we haven't. 

Yesterday I pulled out a huge cherry tomato plant, a tangled mess of vines that had simply thrown in the towel on life. It wasn't murdered by frost; it passed away from sheer exhaustion. The marigolds left in that garden box are quite beside themselves. Last night already, I'm sure, they started taking over the open ground. I don't write definitions, but I'm standing firm here--"Indian Summer" does not bless us until killer frosts wipe out most everything outside and the skin on our faces gets wiped off by northwest prairie winds spun from somewhere north of Edmonton.

I like to think we have to earn "Indian Summer" by purposeful suffering. If we've already had some snow on the ground, we're in line for what is actually "Indian Summer." Maybe I'm just too much the Calvinist. 

Definitions be hanged. It's October already, almost halfway through the month as well, and when the weather man delivers like he is this weekend--80 degrees!!--there's cause for real rejoicing, cause for morning thanks.

No comments: