Indian Summer – or St. Luke’s Little Summer?

According to meteorologists, an Indian Summer is defined as “A warm, calm spell of weather occurring in autumn, especially in October and November.”

Before the middle of the last century, such a spell of fine weather would be linked to ancient weather lore and the church calendar. Speaking of the latter, in mid-October, for instance, it would have been called “St. Luke’s Little Summer” as the feast day of St. Luke falls on 18 October (today!), while in mid-November it would be “St. Martin’s Summer” as St. Martin’s feast day is 11 November.

And in betwixt those two, Shakespeare would have used the expression “All Halloween Summer” (see Henry IV Part I) for a period of warm sunshine as October gives way to November.

As for m’self, I prefer to stick to “Indian Summer” for its resonance over the several decades since birth that I spent in South Asia until coming with my family to the United States in 1975.

Another event that sticks in my mind was, when as a bachelor, I visited Sweden for a hitchhiking holiday from south to north.  I crossed by ferry from the Danish capital Copenhagen to the Swedish port of Malmo, and almost miraculously it seemed that the cold weather I’d just left behind had changed dramatically.

Indeed, in the sudden 75 -degree warmth, I tore off my sweater, shoved it into my knapsack, and sauntered in shirt sleeves onto the main road heading to Stockholm. But fate had other immediate plans in store for me: A large American  sedan drove up alongside and the driver asked me if I wanted a ride. Of course, I accepted the invitation with alacrity, and off we went with my being squeezed into the vehicle with the gentleman’s family of five.

We drove first to Kalmar, then into the hinterland dotted with lakes big and small. Finally, we parked at the family’s summer home in Orebro.

Castle at Orebro
orebro-castleTo cap it all, I was invited to stay with them, as they had a spare bedroom, and join in their celebration of a special event the following day.

It was the krafte (crayfish) season and invited neighbors forgathered on the back lawn bordering a sizable lake.

After warm introductions all around, one of the guests remarked that he’d just learnt that I was an Indian. Thereupon, the others were all unanimous in congratulating me on bringing  azimindiansommar – Azim’s Indian Summer – along with me!

The guests then seated themselves on makeshift wooden tables laid out by our host with no ‘eating irons’. Shortly thereafter, with much excitement, our hosts converged on us bearing myriad platters of krafte (crayfish) with accompanying crystal glasses filled to the brim with schnapps.

Bright napkins with lyrics of a popular song printed on them were then handed out that each of us wrapped around our necks. Next, we used our fingers to fish out the piscine delicacies, place the head of each one on the periphery of your individual plate and down a shot of the vodka with shouts of skoal. That continued until you had successfully completed the circumference of your plate with krafte heads – roughly a dozen per plate. By that time – speaking for myself – my head was swimming!

Next morning I was on my way to the Swedish capital and, after ensconcing myself at a youth hostel there sallied forth to enjoy the sights and sounds of Stockholm, including of course a visit to the Royal Palace.

Royal Palace at Stockholm


At another time, I’ll be writing about my further travel to cover the main attractions of the other Scandinavian countries, Norway and Denmark, but to be sure I doubt I’ll ever again be a star attraction with a freak season named after me.

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