Saturday, October 15, 2011

Are You Making That Up?

I am not exaggerating when I say that the BEST conversations are those held with children.  Not only do you often feel as tho you are full of wisdom when they ask questions, but I have also found that they leave ME with questions that I need to find answers for!
Last week was the second week of temperatures in the high 70's and mid 80's. Beautiful, lovely, breezy warm days filled with the soft touch of fall. I had picked up Billy, my 12 year old grandson from school and we were talking about the gorgeous colors of the autumn trees on our drive home. In conversation, I told him how I loved Indian Summer.
"What is Indian Summer, Grandma?" he asked.
"Well, it is when fall has arrived with cool, frosty weather and then suddenly you have a period of days when it suddenly gets warm like summer again before the cold weather actually comes to stay," I explained.
"Why do they call it Indian Summer?" he inquired, suddenly full of interest.
I hesitated before answering, " You know, I'm not really sure...I wonder if it has something to do with some tribes moving to different places before the hard winter arrived, and maybe that is the period of time they did this?"
Billy thought about this for a moment before saying, "So is there really such a saying as Indian Summer, or are you making that up?"
I laughed out loud and assured him, there is absolutely such a phrase, and maybe I should look it up as to why they call it that. He agreed that would be interesting:)
The following day I picked up his sister Caitlyn and her friend Maggie  to take them to dance class right after school. Once again the conversation was geared around the warm weather and I said to them, that this is our Indian Summer. Being 4th graders their reaction was much less calm.
"What is that?" they both responded laughingly.
Once again I explained the definition of it, and silently kicked myself for not taking the time to be able to tell them why it was called that!
Suddenly, Maggie inquired, "Are you making that up?"
I laughed and laughed..obviously kids these days are not exposed to the term-- Indian Summer!
With a big smile on my face, I assured her it was a true term, and I would get back to her as to why it was called that.
I did get the definition correct on Indian summer---"...warm weather after a sharp frost, associated with October to November..."
However, the reason it is named so, is pretty interesting. There appears to be a couple of thoughts on this.  One theory being that the Colonists knew that Indian raiding parties did not happen once the snow was on the ground, so after the first hard frosts and then warm weather, they knew that this was when they could expect the last of the raids for the season.
Another theory is, it was the period of time the Indians harvested their crops of squash and corn, getting them in before the hard winter.
So now I will be much more informed when I speak of Indian Summer, thanks to my grand kids.
 Also a lesson to be learned is to pass on the language we have grown up with. It can be an adventure in learning if you can convince them you did not make it up!!
Have a great weekend!