It may look like peak fall outside, but it sure feels like it's summertime. We usually find ourselves here right about now. We've had our first frost, the plants have come inside, we've felt the chill, and we have resigned ourselves to the fact that cold is just how it's going to be until May.
Then a second summer hits us right in the face like a cluster of leaves from a 150 year old maple. One minute we're wallowing in chilly, damp, and foggy doldrums, and then it's July again for a couple of days.
Different Name, Same Dirty Tease
In the past, this phenomenon has been referred to as "Indian Summer". Out of respect for the indigenous peoples that inhabited the land, names such as second summer, badger summer, pastrami summer, or quince summer are now used. Pastrami summer!?! I thought that only happened in the kitchen of Katz's Deli in New York City!
Early colonists in the Northeast were enamored with the phenomenon. Written evidence going back to the 1790s from farmers in the Hudson Valley speaks to this second summer. French immigrant farmer J. H. St. John de Crèvecoeur who lived in the region said the first real frost “is often preceded by a short interval of smoke and mildness", which we call Second Summer today. What he refers to as smoke is the haziness that can sometimes accompany a second summer.
Don't Break Out Your Speedos and Suntan Lotion
Just as soon as it's here, there it goes. Some may go as far as to call this short interval of lovely weather "fool's summer". The current second summer is seeing 80 plus degree temperatures for most of New York right up to the Adirondacks. But don't get comfortable and used to it. A cold front that will bring rain and chilly temperatures will arrive and have a seat by the weekend.
There's always hope. Perhaps we'll have a third summer on Halloween.