About us: We own a wild bird feeding supply nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What is Indian Summer?

Haven’t the last couple of days have been beautiful?  The squirrels and birds have certainly been taking advantage of the nice weather to fatten up at feeders.

According to Wikipedia: “An Indian summer is a meteorological phenomenon that occurs in autumn, in the Northern Hemisphere. It is characterized by a period of sunny, warm weather, after the leaves have turned following an onset of frost, but before the first snowfall.”

Why Indian? Well, no one knows. It first shows up in writing in 1778, in a letter from French-American farmer named St. John de Crevecoeur who wrote:

“Sometimes the rain is followed by an interval of calm and warmth which is called the Indian Summer; its characteristics are a tranquil atmosphere and general smokiness.”

Chances are we will never know the origin of the phrase but some theories are:

• When European settlers first came, Native Americans were the first point out the pattern.
• The haziness of the Indian Summer weather was caused by prairie fires deliberately set by Native American tribes.
• It was the period when Native American peoples harvested their crops.
• The phenomenon was more common in what were then North American Indian territories.
• In a parallel with other 'Indian' terms it implied a belief in false promise by an Indian and that an Indian summer was a false copy of the real summer.
• It relates to the marine shipping trade in the Indian Ocean; trading ships used this good weather period to travel to the Indian Ocean. Several ships actually had an "I.S." mark on their hulls at the load level thought safe during the Indian Summer.

Read more in the article: Just What Is Indian Summer And Did Indians Really Have Anything To Do With It?  by William Deedler -National Weather Service Detroit office.

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