Friday, November 05, 2010

Indian summer?

There's a degree of debate this time of year about Indian Summer --- what it is, when it is and, I'd guess, why anyone should care. So once we get through today, when the predicted high is only 47, I'm declaring it Indian Summer. I care primarily because although I know where the insulated pants, heavy coats and gloves are, I'd just as leave not be wearing them yet.

There's general agreement that the mythical season arrives after the first hard freeze and before the first snowfall and is marked by sunshine and mild days. Some say this was the time of year when the Ioway, Sauk, Mesqwaki and their predecessors here harvested corn and squash, and perhaps there's an element of truth in that. But those early farmers most likely behaved much like today's farmers and harvested and stored their crops as soon as they were mature and whenever conditions allowed it.

October here was wonderful and November, so far, has continued that trend. The past couple of days have been windy, causing the chill in the air to penetrate, but sunny with wonderful clouds. The skies have been spectacularly blue. So for heaven's sake, look up.

I appreciate the wind because it picks the leaves on my lawn up and blows them down the draw making them someone else's problem. The neighborhood's sentinel pin oak is still fully clad with enough leaves to blanket the neighborhood. Only after those leaves come down will it be really worthwhile to rake.

It's also a really good time of year to admire the fall and winter shapes of plants that brought color to the prairie during the warmer months. The remains of sunflowers introduce this post and goldenrod in full seed is immediately above.

Just above are (first) big bluestem and (next) indian grass. Finally, below, the interesting remains of vervain.

Now that the elections are over, we can get down to the really important questions, like what the heck do we call the November moon? September's always is the harvest moon; October's, the hunter's moon. But there are too many options, none especially attractive, for November's moon --- and I can't decide.

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