The glorious glint of the September sky transforms the earth around us. We feel the warm sun and yet the shorter days register inside us, foretelling of the coming of cold. But for this moment, it feels like all of summer is still present – it is Indian summer.
Technically, of course, it’s not. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Indian summer is not simply warm, hazy days in fall; the weather phenomenon must occur after a good hard frost, usually in early November.
But I prefer to think of this term as the Romantics do: that all is not lost.
According to Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary, the definition of Indian summer (n) is : a period of warm weather in late autumn or early winter OR a happy or pleasant period near the end of someone's life, career, etc.
The first references as a weather-related term appeared in American literature as early as a 1780s but by 1834 was well enough established as a phrase for John Greenleaf Whittier to use it to describe a second chance of sorts in his poem Memories he wrote of "The Indian summer of the heart!"
In the garden, of course, we see that the colors have become deeper – wine-soaked crimsons, regal-rich purples and golden-filled canaries. The earth itself speaks of mellowed intensity.
I feel this, too, as the autumnal equinox shifts the days from long, lazy summer hours to shortened evenings that make me want to hold on to every precious minute outside.
All is not lost.
All is not lost, when I choose to see that seasons of growth are followed by seasons of understanding.
All is not lost, when I pause in the stillness, to accept the changes around me.
All is not lost, when I turn from all the varieties on the summer palette and realize I must choose just one – but do it with a richness of purpose.
The spring of one’s life is beautiful because it affords unabated growth; the summer is productive and ultimately allows you to blossom; but the autumn, the sweet, cool autumn draws out an appreciation for all that has been and a last, lovely chance to enjoy it.
Do I feel that my leaves will never be green again? I do. But this is the season to harvest the late crop, to discover jewels in fields that may look mowed down.
And just as each season must fold into the next, so we believe that even winter is not death, but rather a time when structure provides support and roots grow deep. When we finally reach that segway of segways - the end of this time and the beginning of what we cannot see - it is no less beautiful because it requires us to look with new eyes, faith-eyes … just as when we planted our seeds in the spring.
“We do not lose heart,
but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man
is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction
is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal…For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 4: 16, 17 & 5:7