Indian summer

A. Maberry maberry at U.WASHINGTON.EDU
Thu Sep 30 15:59:49 UTC 1999

I'm with Natalie on that one. Our first frosts often come far too late for
Indian summer. I've never heard Indian summer used of the first bit of
cool weather after summer, but of a period of nice clear warmer weather
after the first cool spell in fall.

maberry at

On Thu, 30 Sep 1999, Natalie Maynor wrote:

> > Earlier, weathercasters would lecture us not to call it "Indian Summer"
> > until after the first frost, so there are two changes--one, a loosening of
> > the requirement from "first frost" to "cooler weather" and then to the
> > cooler weather itself; is this an example of a northern term being
> > reinterpreted for a southern clime?
> I don't remember ever having considered the first frost a requirement.
> >  When frost comes late in the fall
> > there would not be a warmer period following.
> Our first frost is usually sometime in early November.  After that, the
> weather fluctuates enormously for the next several months.  Thanksgiving
> in Mississippi might be 10 degrees or 90 degrees.  (Both of those would
> be extreme.  Quite often, however, Thanksgiving is 30 degrees or 80
> degrees.)  So yes, we definitely have warmer periods after the first
> frost.  I don't think people are likely to use the term "Indian summer"
> that late in the year, though.
> > I think we like these expressions and apply them when we can,
> > reinterpreting them when we can't.
> One thing that has occurred to me in the reinterpretations I've heard
> lately is the possibility that people have heard "Indian summer" used
> with a connotation of "beautiful weather" -- the kind we often have
> in October (which always reminds me of a poem named "October's Bright
> Blue Weather" that I had to memorize in the fourth grade).  Since most
> people don't think of summer weather here as "beautiful," they've
> assumed that "Indian summer" means the first of our October-type
> weather.  Interestingly, although this reinterpretation gives the
> term an opposite meaning (arrival of cool weather instead of a return
> of warm weather), the weather the term is being applied to in the
> reinterpretation is probably very much like the weather the term is
> being applied to when used in its original meaning in northern climes.
> Our fall weather is similar to summer weather in places like New England.
>    --Natalie Maynor (maynor at

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