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Indian summer

Pumpkins at Parkdale Market, Ottawa, Riding the busesEditorial: You really should come to my part of the world during an Indian summer. It’s autumn here now in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, a time we often call fall. But it’s warm outside and the light is golden. The September equinox, when day and night are the same length, has passed and the light is slanted. Daylight hours are quickly starting to fade.

Indian summer is a heat wave that occurs in the fall between late September and mid-November. It usually follows a frost. Until last night there were only reports of frost in ‘outlying areas’ but  now one has struck city gardens as well. The days are still warm, however, and people are even  swimming in the nearby lake.

No one seems to know why it’s called Indian summer.  It could have gotten its name because indigenous peoples historically depended on warm, dry weather for their fall harvest. My so-called Indian summer seems to arrive just about every year, so maybe I am a little too loose with my definition. Perhaps what I am calling Indian summer is in fact the glorious weather we routinely have in Eastern Canada at this time of year.

We certainly have the right climate and light conditions to just about guarantee incredible fall foliage. And lots of deciduous trees grow here so we’re surrounded by leaves turning to shades of red, orange, yellow and green. Canada’s Thanksgiving is this weekend and the weather is so lovely that we should be able to eat our turkey dinner and pumpkin pie on the back deck.

It’s also a long weekend in the United States. They’re celebrating Columbus Day. My daughter Jessica and I did a road trip to the New England States on this holiday weekend a few years back and the roads were so packed with tourists out to see the fall foliage that it was sort of a state-wide traffic jam!

Think about coming this way instead for our leaves are at least as brilliant and the crowds not so thick.

Sylvia Fanjoy

Photo credits Sylvia Fanjoy

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