09 November 2009

indian summer

We are in the midst of a last few days of gentle, warm weather before winter arrives: a real Indian summer. The sky last night was full of stars, and the moon over the creek across the road was a half-lit mellow gold. This morning the sun ever-so-politely melted the frost off the grass. There isn’t a cloud in the sky . . . or a bird at the feeder, for that matter. Where are they? Maybe they’ve found a comfortable perch where they can take in this gauzy, fragile warmth.

I finished raking down by the road yesterday afternoon and gave the side and back lawns their last mowing of the season, more for neatening than necessity. I am planning today to dig the outline of the new flower bed so that I can put away the hose that marks its edge.

Dale the dog split his dewclaw this weekend and has been worrying it no end, so I arranged to take a vacation day and have made an appointment for him to see the veterinarian this morning. She will, I hope, provide him with a little relief. Poor dawg.

I woke up singing the first line of the old standard “Indian Summer”: “Summer, you old Indian summer . . .” which, really, is all I want to sing, because the rest of the song is about love lost. But surely there’s a poem that speaks to the way I feel today. Cue Google.

Indian Summer
by Emily Dickinson

These are the days when birds come back,
A very few, a bird or two,
To take a backward look.

These are the days when skies put on
The old, old sophistries of June,—
A blue and gold mistake.

Oh, fraud that cannot cheat the bee,
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief,

Till ranks of seeds their witness bear,
And softly through the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf!

Oh, sacrament of summer days,
Oh, last communion in the haze,
Permit a child to join,

Thy sacred emblems to partake,
Thy consecrated bread to break,
Taste thine immortal wine!


  1. Anonymous11:49 PM

    Ah, leave it to Emily Dickinson to say it just right. :) We;ve had a couple of days of Indian Summer here in Nova Scotia, too. Wonderful days. Gifts! I'm always so happy to see your posts. :)

  2. I would have expected there to be more poems about Indian summer, because it's such a particular phenomenon and so evocative. Emily Dickinson really nails it, doesn't she? Glad you've been having some of the same warmth in Nova Scotia. Ah!