Indian summer

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Thu Sep 30 17:57:12 UTC 1999

In Minnesota a first frost had to precede Indian summer (at least when I
was growing up), but I think the term is used more loosely in SE Ohio,
where, as in Mississippi, we might have a very hot and humid September and
then a sudden coolness, followed by a moderate October.  Weathercasters in
Columbus would probably stick to the northern distinction; I'm not sure
about the Huntington-Charleston people (these are the two main news/weather
centers for this area), but I'll give a listen.

At 10:56 AM 9/30/99 -0500, you 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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list