As a man of the pen, I do take a keener interest in the changing seasons than most. However, I cannot pretend to challenge Vivaldi’s poetic lust for the subtle annual turn of sun to snow.
This so called Indian summer has been an exquisite treat from Mother Nature or Him at, what is usually, a watershed moment in the English year.Traditionally, ten days into September one suddenly realises the cricket season has finished, soccer has unfortunately returned but comfortingly the great spectre of the prix de l’arc de triomphe looms.
By now I have usually resigned myself to tweed over linen, shorts have been folded for hibernation and the Barbour like a faithful, muddy sheepdog becomes an ever present.
Not in 2016 – the shorts are still triumphant and the Panama proud.
The fortunate few trees that have retained their chloroplasts are revelling in the finest second coming since Jesus. Animals look baffled and, perhaps, fewer have embarked on their arduous migration to Egypt. The ordinarily lush lawns have the hue of an autumnal leaf and look like Wimbledon’s burnt centre court in week two.
For a nation that is so obsessed with weather and, of course, revels in the discourse surrounding it; we are tranquil when an Indian summer knocks on the door.
Before I tap into the deep inner workings of a nations meteorological psyche, I feel it is important to know the root of this phrase ‘an Indian summer’.
I had always thought that the phrase originated from some sort of romantic notion relating to the days of the Empire. An old duffer confused and full of gin would look his weather vane and then his calendar and utter: “I thought I was in Surrey but it is sunny, perhaps I’m still in Hyderabad?”
“No Bunny, you are in Surrey. We are having an Indian summer,” his faithful wife would reply.
“Oh yes,” dear old Bunny would reply, before slipping into an elegant reverie about his jam-boy the colonial club.
Alas that is not the Genesis of the phrase, it actually comes from America.
Nevertheless, the exact origins of the term are still uncertain. What is certain is that the phenomenon of a hot autumn snap is especially prevalent in regions inhabited by Native Americans or Red Indians to you and I. The other possibility is that it was the Native Americans who first described it to Europeans. Another theory is that it had been based on the warm and hazy conditions in autumn when Native Americans hunted.
Whatever three history of the entomology, it is a wonderful piece of joy that makes old Englishmen’s hearts sing.
In my opinion the weather in late spring is, on the whole, comparable to that of early autumn. However, the major difference arrives in a expectation shaped car. Each drop of rain in Easter is greeted with a sigh and disconsolate mutterings of “another April shower”. On the other hand the extra moments sun fill us cyclical English with glimmers of hope. A thankfulness for the additional throws of summer.
And, as if by magic, I turn to the window and ponder a potter to Putney to bask in IPA fuelled glory at the Dukes Head but He isn’t playing ball. No, dear reader, the heavens have opened and the third movement of the symphony is upon us.