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Definition of Indian Summer: Warm, hazy, quirky and thrived in the late '80s



Always a conversation starter, the weather this year across the U.S. has been quite warm and many areas have experienced record temperatures this fall, which brings to mind the phrase "Indian Summer." What is Indian Summer? It started today and is also a favorite indie song in the '80s from the Beat Happening.

While most people refer to an Indian Summer as anytime in the fall when it feels unseasonably warm, there are actual specific parameters of a real Indian Summer. Whether you chose to celebrate it or not, Indian Summer starts today as it always does on November 11th (St. Martin's Day) and runs from November 20th. The phrase goes back to the Pilgrim Days when early settlers, who feared attacks from Native Americans, would have to be put on guard again when winds out of the south brought unseasonable warm weather that might encourage "Indians" to raid their settlements. Over time, Indian Summer has become a meteorological term and to qualify as an Indian Summer  (besides being from Nov. 11-20) the day has to be warm and hazy and then produce an extreme change in temperature from day to night with the night becoming chilly, ideally producing a freeze. 

Indian Summer - the song and video - is from the Beat Happening - pioneers themselves of the low-fi movement in the late '80s. The Beat Happening was two guys and one girl who met as college students at Evergreen University in Olympia, Washington and produced a sparse sound of a few guitars and slight percussion with quirky song lyrics. Indian Summer is off the 1988 album Jamboree (a favorite of Kurt Cobain's) and the video is 8 mm-type home movie in which the individual members of Beat Happening converge at the park while the lyrics evoke a childhood recollection of days picking berries and enjoying the simplicity of a warm fall day. The Beat Happening dissolved in 1992. 


[Last modified: Friday, November 11, 2016 4:18pm]


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