Literary Hook: Don’t let Indian Summer take you by surprise

By Christine Swanberg

Author and Poet

With the chillier temperatures we have been experiencing, there’s that nip in the air that says fall is on the way.

Usually in September, we get a bonus of sunny, marmalade weather, called Indian Summer. It seems to me Indian Summer is most dramatic here in the Midwest.

Indian Summer is that special time after the first frost when the weather becomes toasty. Just when you think you have to hunker down for the cold, along comes Indian Summer.

Even though we have a name for it, it still seems to take us by surprise. And a good surprise it is!

Here is a poem I wrote many years ago celebrating that season.

Indian Summer

—for Jane Kenyon (who wrote “Let Evening Come”)

Let Indian Summer blaze through brown grass blades.

Let it ripple around all that is gold:

field corn drying on stalks,

all the russet maiden grass on plains,

the amber seed heads of goldenrod and aster.

Let Indian Summer come.

Let it come burning the sun’s last hot rays.

to the red pony’s black, muddy hooves,

to the pink snouts of possums asleep behind logs,

to fuzzy fountain grasses swaying in prairies.

Let Indian Summer come.

Let it come whispering on tabby cat whiskers,

tippling moss-coated trunks of maples,

shimmering on small, red crab apples in meadows,

landing on looping groups of cedar waxwings

as they huddle on trees near the river’s edge.

Let Indian Summer come.

Let it arc over Rock River bluffs and castle rocks,

over every circling bird of prey.

Let it glint from the eagle’s chartreuse eye

and glimmer from the red hawk’s splayed tail.

Let is soar wide as the vulture’s black wingspan.

Let Indian Summer come.

Let it come in full head-dress, thundering.

Let it drum full color on leaves,

rattling and shaking fall’s last tassels.

Let it shout. Let it whoop and whirl.

All creatures deserve one final dance in the sun.

So let Indian Summer come.

This poem was first published in Who Walks Among the Trees with Charity, Wind Publications.

From the September 9-15, 2009 issue

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