Saturday, November 16, 2013


In the myth-world of the Ojibway, Michabo was the Great Spirit, grandson of the Moon and son of the West Wind—a beneficent culture hero, inventor and creator, bringer of day and light. Come November, before taking his long winter's sleep, it was said Michabo filled his pipe for a final smoke, puffing out those clouds which rise to fill the autumn air with the haze we recognize as one of the characteristics of the period we call Indian Summer.

Next week's weather is supposed to be in the 60s˚F. Whether this qualifies as true Indian Summer, a second Indian Summer, or just a late-autumn warm spell is a debate I'll leave for another time. But whatever the final call on that question, when Moon-the-Dog and I stepped outside for a final short amble before turning to our beds late yesterday evening, there was no doubt of a warming trend already underway, or a night sky filled with misty haze and scudding clouds.

An all-but-full moon hung high in the dark sky above the sycamores; the fabled Beaver Moon of the Algonquin tribes. A reddish-tinged moon, glowing bright, surrounded by a swirling gauze of clouds which caught and diffused the light, refracting its pale colors into irregular surrounding bands of blue and gold and orange.

A lovely November moon of wonder and mystery…as timeless as land and season and ancient stories told round a warming fire, when winds soughed softly in the pines and Orion's Great Bear began making his was down from the dark night sky to wash his paws in the cold waters of Gitche Gumee's inland sea. 

The Moon of Michabo.

[ The image above is the best of several attempts to capture last night's marvelous moon on digital. Alas, my photo is not all that great, though it's the best of the lot. I had to resort to a high ISO 3200. The shot also fails to show the intensity and full halo effect of the colors. I just hope it gives you some idea of what I saw. ]             


Gail said...

HI GRIZZ - no apologies for the great picture of the Autumn moon. I love it!! And I feel the eerie darkened haze of night and the chill of a confused Autumn struggling to dip in to freezing temperatures. Don't be fooled though. Colder weather is heading towards us.

I am exxcited to shop next week for our Thanksgiving celebration and then to decorate for Christmas. Glorious in of itself and a new tradition begins, our first Thanksgiving and Christmas in our cozy Bungalow here in Clinton. I find myself filled with real joy, that deep kind one feels in their core, and so too I have a heart ache for all that was and all those that have passed on and some of those that remain distant. And so like life, I am a blend of emotions, mine to behold,my truth to live, my hope to cling to this season and always.Amen
Love Gail

The Weaver of Grass said...

Interesting Grizz because we call a late spell of warm weather an Indian Summer too - but I had never associated it with the North American Indian tribes.

Grizz………… said...


Thank you for your nice comments re. the moon photo. It came out better than I'd feared, though not as good as I'd hoped—the problem being the dynamic range differential between the the bright moon itself and the softly glowing but awesomely colored surrounding clouds. To get one exposed correctly, you seriously overexposed or underexposed the other. I would have attempted an HDR shot, except the clouds were moving so fast.

I've got to get my Thanksgiving supplies in and ready, too. I really look forward to making this meal every year—all the prep work and early cooking/fixing, and the actual day's many jobs and dishes. I start about 6:00 a.m. and we eat around noon to 1:00 p.m. A pretty much traditional feast, including heirloom recipes handed down more than a hundred years—grandmother (or possibly great-grandmother), mother, me—and so much the better for that fact. There's no more homey, cozy place than our house on Thanksgiving…which I bet is the same that could be said for your place.

Grizz………… said...


There's no doubt the term "Indian Summer" is North American in origin, and that it alludes, in some way to our First Nation people, though no one can say exactly how. Theories abound. The term's earliest known reference comes from a letter written by one St. John de Crevecoeur, a Frenchman, living in what today would be Pennsylvania—though his phrasing clearly shows the term was already in fairly common usage. But it didn't make its way back to England until the mid- to late-1800s, and wasn't widespread there much before the WWII.

The real controversy comes, not from what it means—a brief spell of warm, summerlike weather in fall—but when it can actually occur, and whether or not it can occur more than once in a given year. What is a fact is that nowadays the term is bandied about and misused, with all sorts of foolish, even idiotic explanations and excuses—none of which follow history or nature or even common sense.

Here's my opinion:

Can Indian Summer come in September? No. Yet a town not far from here holds an Indian Summer weekend festival the middle of the month WHILE IT"S STILL OFFICIALLY SUMMER! At the earliest—and I think this is still too early—Indian Summer can't arrive until after the equinox passes and autumn begins.

Can it occur twice or several times in a given year? Maybe, but it would have to meet the criteria below, with a wintry interlude between times.

So what about after autumn arrives? Is October open? I still think not, though under the right circumstances, I'll bend on this point. The old texts and journals recognized Indian Summer as a warm period following what they often called Squaw Winter—which was a cold, wintry spell, typically with a snow or two. And normally not until after the first week of November. Many old timers say Indian Summer can't arrive before mid-November…and claim that if we haven't had a taste of freezing, snowy, wintery weather beforehand (Squaw Winter)…well, it's just a warm spell and not truly Indian Summer.

Personally, I'll allow that warm spell to claim the title in late-October IF we've had that bitter wintry interlude. But not all years have an Indian Summer, ever—and I feel a lot better about proclaiming one when it happens in mid-November and comes after the ground has been covered with snow.

Yup, I'm old school and incorrigible. But I think words and terms should mean something, and that nature and history are not to be ignored.