Sunday, September 12, 2010


Morning dew sparkles on a spider's handiwork.

I was looking at the October issue of "Quilter's World." Scanning through the "editor's letter" by Elisa Sims Albury, to my surprise, I found myself reading a beautifully descriptive paragraph of my own region as follows: "I am reminded during this season of the years I spent in graduate school in northern Idaho, where the fields of wheat and lentils were plentiful. In late autumn the air got just a bit drier, the evenings cooler, with frosty nights becoming a common occurrence. Just when we thought winter was right around the corner, the temperatures would rise slightly, and for several weeks we would experience a glorious 'Indian summer.' Half-harvested fields of golden wheat danced across the landscape in sunsets that appeared to be lit from a dying fire." (Elisa goes on to mention the pattern for the "Indian Harvest" runner featured in this issue.)

Elisa is writing about Moscow, home of the University of Idaho, where Chris, Hallie, and I (and a lot of other people) went to school. But that same description of "Indian summer" applies to much of the Inland Empire of the Pacific Northwest. We have a great autumn in this region, but who would expect to find such a description in a quilting magazine.

Still, I've never quite known how to define "Indian summer." The term seemed elusive to me, so today I finally took the trouble to look it up. Indian summer is a period of sunny, warm weather in autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, typically late October or early November after the leaves have turned following an onset of frost but before the first snowfall. It can only be Indian summer after the first frost, usually a killing frost. I might add that the sunny and warm part applies mostly to late morning and afternoon. Early mornings and evenings are chilly.

The only problem I have with Ms. Albury's description is the reference to "half-harvested fields of golden wheat." By the time Indian summer comes, the wheat has long been harvested – no exceptions. But those stubble fields do reflect our spectacular sunsets, and Ms. Albury's words capture the beauty of our Indian summer. To echo Grandma Ina's words from the heart of central Idaho agricultural country: We get marvelous effects morning and evening.

I load and stack the wood that MW cuts.
So, it's not Indian summer yet, but we feel autumn creeping up on us. The barley fields on our place are half-harvested – not our worry since the land is leased. The leaves on the tips of the maple trees seem to hold just a hint of fall color. The sun is warm in the afternoon but the breeze can be cool. Temperatures drop rapidly when the sun goes down. Our lows have been about 40. I'm wearing my warm pajamas to bed, and our electric blanket and quilt are in place.

This morning at 9:00 I went with Mike to help with the easy wood at the Senter place. It's "easy wood" because the trees are already down and there's no need to pull the tree out. It's simply a matter of cutting and loading the wood, which we are happy to do. Anyway, I started out in a sweatshirt and jacket and was soon too warm in the sweatshirt. Mike found the wood splits quite easily, so he cut and split while I loaded and stacked. I couldn't help but wonder if the farmer's wife of yesteryear came in for such laborious work. Did she just concern herself with the house, the children, and the chickens, so to speak, or did she come in for some of the "man's work"? KW  


Hallie said...

That is a VERY spooky spider web! The only thing scarier than a spider is knowing there's a spider and not knowing where it is. I rather suspected you were busy with wood today. The temperatures were comfortable here today and the leaves are just starting to change.

Chris said...

What a gorgeous day this was up here!! Fall at its very best.

I'm hoping for no frost for a while because our garden got planted so very late and is just now coming on. Sure would love to can some green beans and make some zucchini bread. We worked in the yard after enjoying a leisurely hour or so reading in chairs under the cherry trees. Perfect Sunday afternoon.

Kathy said...

I agree about the spooky spider web. Actually I forgot about it or it would probably be swept down and gone. On the other hand, maybe I'll be able to get a better picture.

We're supposed to be able to have fall gardens in our region, but I've not had much success. I know what you mean about the late planting, Chris. I didn't plant our raised bed here at the farm until the second week of July. Perhaps it's a subject for another blog.