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The trials and tribulations of Indian Summer


We’ve had such a beautiful fall this year and after a super-productive summer at our new house, we’ve been able to squeeze in a few more projects due to the warm weather.  As I walked to the Tower Post Office from the Timberjay yesterday morning though, a brisk wind hit my face and I noted it was probably the end of our “Indian Summer,” and a wrap on outside project opportunities. We always called it “Indian Summer”...but I wonder if I can say that any longer without getting reprimanded by someone for offending? Indian Summer sounds so lovely, and has always conjured up images of autumn’s brilliant colors and blue skies, harvest, and hunting. The term has always made me feel like being productive and getting some important work done in time for winter. So do we now call it “Native American Summer”? That’s getting too sensitive, isn’t it? I was thinking about this yesterday and when I got home from work, out of curiosity, I Googled to see where the phrase originated and here is what I found.

Traditionally, an Indian Summer is a spell of above-average temperatures accompanying dry and sunny weather after the end of summer. In fact, it is only a true Indian Summer if a warm spell occurs after one, or a series of sharp frosts, and is associated with late-September to mid-November. Although the exact origins of the term are uncertain, it is thought to have been based on the warm and hazy conditions in autumn when American Indians chose to hunt.

I decided it’s not offensive, so I’m going to keep using this expression. As I age, my goal is to be less fussy about things in general. Well, sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. Here’s an example of success.

Last summer I bought a red 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It’s a great vehicle, sporty and all of that, so I decided to accessorize it a bit. I bought a black fake-leather steering wheel cover with the word JEEP printed on it three or more times, in nice bold white letters. My husband Bill stretched it over the wheel for me. I immediately noticed the word JEEP was not centered when the wheel came to rest. I told Bill it was going to disturb me, possibly driving me insane, to leave it that way and began the series of facial expressions and body language that will accompany “my act” when I want him to alter something. I suddenly stopped and said, “No, just leave it!” I’m getting too fussy as I age and need to learn to let things like this not bother me. It’s now been over a year and I am fine with it, making note that I find humor in the fact I was able to let it go....just leave it be.

In addition to being less fussy, I’m trying to do less “nagging” for lack of a better word! Bill and I were in the hardware store last week and ended up in the paint department. I was rambling about needing a gallon of some shade for a kitchen wall in order to complete a project. I heard Bill about five feet away muttering, “Been in this house JUST over three months...what’s her rush with it all?” I decided he was right, and I left the paint department. “Let it go Scarlet...just let it slide!” 

We have inside painting and outside painting going on all at once. When our weather turned to rain a few weeks ago, I came inside and painted our kitchen nook after first removing a stubborn wallpaper border that was gripping the wall for dear life up near the ceiling. That same border traveled all around the upper walls of the kitchen outside of the nook, too. I was tackling this at 1 a.m. and had nearly gotten it all off when I ran out of my “Mean Green” solution. It’s harsh, but it works great on wallpaper removal! It has now been about two weeks and I still have that two-foot section of border remaining on one wall. But, I see it as an accomplishment in letting stuff slide; after all, Indian Summer arrived and we went outside to paint on the exterior of the house again. Project rotation is the name of the game.

We’ve got plenty of projects that are not quite finished here, but doesn’t everybody? Nobody juggles with just one ball! Recently, an encounter Bill had illustrated just how successful I have been in my “anti-nag and let it slide” approach because it never would have happened if I had been a super-nag. While walking across the street to get our mail at the Soudan Post Office, Bill nearly bumped into our neighbor as she exited. She saw him and promptly held her hand to her eyes to block the view of our house. She comically blurted, “I can’t look at your house anymore, it’s driving me nuts! Could you just finish painting that one corner PLEASE?”  She laughed and so did Bill, but upon hearing of the encounter, I knew how deeply she was suffering!

I let it remain unpainted for over a month, too high up for me. I looked at it every day, but said very little...I let it slide.... and slide and then LORD...I decided to PUSH. We can’t have neighbors in peril. Plus, looking at the forecast I could see temperatures dropping. Bill got the corner painted between morning winds that blew the ladder down and evening showers. As it stands now, there are a few small areas on upper dormers that still remain unpainted and may have to wait until next year, unless we get a second Indian Summer! I am hoping we do, then I can get out my white trim paint and finish all the trim I can reach. Bill, on the other hand, doesn’t want another Indian Summer as he has been moving through life since last December with a torn rotator cuff. He has done amazingly well with the move and these projects we’ve been working on at our house. Yay, Bill!

So many projects and too little time is the way of it I guess! I hope your Indian Summer was more relaxing than mine. Time to be back inside. I guess I’ll be returning to that two-foot section of stubborn wallpaper border in my kitchen and heading back to the paint aisle again.  

Source: Defining Indian Summer: English Language & Uses Company 

Scarlet Lynn Stone welcomes your comments and can be reached at: scarlet@


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