Indian summer

Peter McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Thu Sep 30 16:10:24 UTC 1999

FWIW, I remember reading, when I was a kid, what was identified as an
Indian legend about a tribe being caught unawares by cooler weather
before they had finished...harvesting?...or whatever provisioning they
needed to survive the winter.  So they entreated the operative deity to
give them just the few more days they needed, and he agreed, saying he
had been wanting to take a few more days to relax and smoke his pipe
anyway, so while he did that, they could have a few more warm days.
And this was why we often have the few warm days after the first cold
ones, and why these days are characterized by a hazy atmosphere.  I
don't remember how the retelling of the story accounted for the
use of the term "Indian summer" in English (though I remember it made
the connection somehow); presumably since whites heard the legend from
Indians, they promptly dubbed the phenomenon "Indian summer."

I realize this sheds no light whatever on the question of WHEN the term
originated, and I can offer no evidence whatever of the authenticity of
the "legend."  I read it long before I encountered concepts like
"authenticity" and I guess it stuck in my mind because I kind of liked

Peter A. McGraw
Linfield College
McMinnville, Oregon
pmcgraw at

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