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OTHER ITA SITES:
It was a warm, sunny October afternoon one day when I was a kid, and as I walked up the hill of our driveway after getting off the school bus at our Wisconsin dairy farm, I wondered how many more nice days we would have before winter came.
I was still wondering about winter when I entered the kitchen a few minutes later.
�What did you learn in school today?� asked my mother, who was in the middle of peeling potatoes for supper.
Every day Mom asked what I had learned in school, although most of the time I didn�t know how to answer because it didn�t seem like we had really learned anything.
Today, though, I had something to tell her.
�We learned about Indian Summer,� I said.
My mother paused and looked over at me. �It�s not Indian Summer today.�
I frowned. �It�s not?�
Mom shook her head.
�But our teacher said so.�
�That�s what the weatherman said on television this morning, too. But it�s not Indian Summer,� she replied.
�How come?� I asked. �Our teacher told us that it�s Indian Summer when we get a warm, sunny day after it freezes.�
My mother shrugged. �Seems like just another nice fall day to me,� she said.
�Then what makes it Indian Summer?�
Mom paused to select another potato.
�We have to get snow first before it�s Indian Summer,� she explained.
Even though it was already October, I didn�t figure it would snow for a long time yet.
�Does it have to snow a lot?� I asked.
�No. Just a little bit. Then after it melts, and if we have some nice, warm, sunny days, then
THAT�s Indian Summer,� Mom said.
My mother sighed. �Well, I don�t know why, exactly. Except if it�s a warm fall day, how is that any different than any other warm fall day?�
I thought about what she�d said for a few moments.
�But if we think it�s going to be winter, like when it snows,� she continued, �and then it turns warm and sunny again, then we think it�s more like summer.�
Her explanation made quite a bit of sense, but still, if my teacher AND the weatherman said it was Indian Summer�
�Did you just make that up?� I asked. �About it not being Indian Summer until after it snows?�
�No,� my mother said, �I did not just make it up. That�s what MY mother and father always said.�
My mother's parents, Nils and Inga, were immigrants from Norway who had died long before I was born.
�Does Norway have Indian Summer, too?� I asked.
My mother shook her head.
�No Indians,� she replied.
We had learned in school that Native Americans were the first people who lived here. And if they were American, then of course they wouldn�t live in Norway, too.
�Did Grandma Inga and Grandpa Nils know any Indians?� I asked.
�No,� Mom said, �although there were still a few in this part of Wisconsin when my grandpa first came to live here. Or so I�ve heard.�
�Did they call it Indian Summer?� I asked.
�Who?� Mom inquired.
�The Indians who were here when your grandpa was around,� I said.
My mother shook her head as she finished peeling the last potato. �I wouldn�t have the foggiest notion,� she replied.
Later that fall, it snowed a little bit. After the snow melted and the weather turned warm again for a while, I could see what Mom meant about how if it snows, we think it�s going to be winter, but then if the weather turns nice again, it seems more like summer.
Nowadays I often hear weather forecasters proclaiming that a sunny, warm, fall day is Indian Summer.
I know better, though.
If my grandparents � and my mother � believed that snow was a prerequisite for Indian Summer, well � that�s good enough for me.
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