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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about...Indian Summer -- the seasonal warming spell, albeit brief, before winter sets in for good.


CURWOOD: Summer may be officially gone, but it may have a reprise. Any time now, Indian Summer could set in. The seasonal occurrence of unseasonably warm, dry, and calm weather in mid- to late-autumn is much cherished in northern climes. It happens after the first frost of the year, so technically Indian Summers apply only to cold-weather regions. Lasting from a few days to a couple of weeks, they can occur more than once during the season or not at all. Historians believe the phrase Indian Summer was coined in New England in the 1700s. Other theories on the term's origin have been bandied about, but none substantiated. One legend is that this warm autumnal respite was the time when early Native Americans gathered food stocks for the winter. While Indian Summers can occur as late as December, they often fall in October, one of the least cloudy months of the year, according to the Farmer's Almanac -- and a fact not lost on Helen Hunt Jackson, who penned this ode to the month: "Oh suns and skies and flowers of June, count all your boasts together. Love loveth best of all the year October's bright blue weather." And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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