Dear Tom,
I have heard the term “Indian Summer” kicked around, but I don’t know the actual definition is. Since it is now autumn, what is your definition of Indian Summer?
—Jeff Johannes, South Bend, Indiana
Dear Jeff,
Indian summer is a term that refers to a period of warm, tranquil weather occurring in mid or late autumn, usually after a freeze or killing frost. The term is most common in the NE United States and dates back to colonial times, but it is also used in the Midwest and other parts of the nation where there is a definable transition from summer to winter. Comparable terms such as “old wives’ summer” and “halcyon days” are used in Europe. In England, depending on the dates of occurrence, this type of weather is called “St. Martin’s summer” or “St. Luke’s summer”, corresponding to ecclesiastical feast days.