What exactly is an Indian Summer?

In a Chevy super-crew pick-up full with five souls yesterday, a 70-degree day, October 20th, my friend commented that it was a perfect Indian summer day. I thought about what he said and agreed, but also asked if anyone knew why we call a warm stretch in October, Indian summer? I wondered what criteria a warm stretch has to meet to be considered Indian summer? Can Indian summer be a single warm day, or does it have to last a minimum amount of warm days? Can Indian summer be in September or November, or only October? Can there be several Indian summers in one fall season? Weve had very sunny warm days this fall, but can an Indian summer day be cloudy, or does it have to be sunny? I assume it does have to be warm, but how warm, is there a certain temperature Indian summer days have to reach? Not one person of our five knew any of the answers to my questions. Later that day I did a book reading in a New Hampshire bookstore. I read a story from my book about what the i in iPhone means, then asked if any of the 15 or so folks there could tell me. They, like hundreds of others Ive read my i story to, had no idea. Then I asked if any of them knew what elements or events made an Indian summer, Indian summer. A guy in the back row offered Indian summer is a warm spell that follows the first frost. Sounded familiar to me (Though it did bring up the question of if the frost needed to be a hard or soft frost, which brings up the question of what differentiates a hard frost from a soft frost). Thats all he knew though, he didnt know what Indians had to do with Indian summer. Twenty minutes later a large man with a long mane of gray hair and bushy Santa-ish beard spoke up, Hey, even since you mentioned Indian summer Ive been pondering on it and I think it has to do with how Indians dont buy and sell amongst each other, but they instead trade and share, which means they give and get things back, and that an extremely warm spell in the fall seems to promise summer ahead, but in fact itll just go into winter and you wont get summer back. So its as if an Indian is lending it to us, but will soon take it back you know? Thats where Indian giver comes from. I think thats what Indian summer might be. His answer was a moment that felt a bit like when Linus calls, Lights please, and proceeds to explain the meaning of Christmas to Charlie Brown. That bearded guy is a dude who has a fresh mind, and his explanation sounds good to me. Yeah, I guess you might be right, I said to the man. Smart guy. Earlier he had referred to his eldest son as Mr. Google, because of his sons apparent huge well of knowledge. If his son is Mr. Google, I cant figure hes a dolt, so Im taking his explanation of Indian summer as dead truth, and from here till I die, will explain Indian summer so. *(Note to reader. Following are two endings. Sometimes when I write Ill come up with several ways of saying something, and in the process of writing I come to choose which way I think works best, then I delete the other. This morning on my final read through I felt both endings worked fairly well, so here you get them both, and you can choose for yourself.) Ending #1. - Anyway, if Im going to take his and the first fellers thoughts on Indian Summer as Gospel, Ill have to say that were in the middle of one of the finest Indian Summers weve ever seen. In fact, as much as all us folks who live in Vermont like to think were special because we live in Vermont, Ive come to the sad realization that in most parts of Vermont, here at the start of the 21st Century, were basically living in Connecticut. Ending #2. - Theres a good chance actually, that I wont be having to explain Indian summer too awful much in the coming years, because if Al Gore is right, and if the first blast of balmy air that hit me when I got out of my truck yesterday morning is a sign of things to come, we who live in 21st Century Vermont are basically living in Connecticut anyway, and they dont have Indian summers in Connecticut, they just go from summer warm, to fall warm, to winter murky.

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