Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fall Almanac IV

From his pipe the smoke ascending
Filled the sky with haze and vapor,
Filled the air with dreamy softness,
Gave a twinkle to the water,
Touched the rugged hills with smoothness,
Brought the tender Indian Summer
To the melancholy north-land,
In the dreary Moon of Snow-shoes.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Hiawatha 1855

Hiawatha always seemed to me to have this declamatory pace to it, similar to old anglo-saxon ballads, and perhaps a bit like Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology. Yet, an appropriate poem.

The woods on the hill in the background are turning now, and we've had our first blast of winter the past week. It certainly did seem that way, with the temprature dipping below 30 one early morning.

Cold, and clear, as per the cloud cover chart; the cold night was the clear day. The winter cold blowing in across the plains from Canada to our little corner of the Midwest.

Indian Summer

I always thought this was a Midwest time of year. Probably because it's sort of celebrated here. Probably the best example of that is John McCutcheons cartoon and story that was reprinted in the Chicago Tribune each fall. The story is that the grandpa tells the kid about Indian Summer, that its the spirits of the Indians come back, imagining the cornstalk stacks as teepees.

You can see an enlargment and the story (told in a sort of dialect English) here.

Interestingly enough McCutheon was a Midwesterner, an Indiana native and Purdue graduate. But the concept is apparently found in Europe as well, called Altwiebersommer, or Old Wives Summer, in Germany.

Deeper in the woods, the leaves stay green in the understory but the taller trees are getting bare.


Anonymous said...

Great post. Thanks for this intro to autumn.

Jefferey said...

Your welcome! I am doing a post a week for autumn, whith pix from the same location, to follow the change. Probably will do a wrap-up with all the pix on one post.

This is my favorite time of year, too, so one reason to follow it.