A Second Indian Summer

Up here, we call “Indian Summer” a few consecutive sunny days in the fall that are as warm as summer days. To qualify as Indian Summer, the nice weather has to occur after the first hard frost.

Although we hadn’t had a hard frost in southern Nova Scotia by early October, other parts of the region had. So those days when the mercury climbed to 24C counted as Indian Summer, at least in our minds. Since then we’ve had a frost down here, and now we’re looking at three days of sunshine and temperatures around 15C, which is a good 5C above normal. It’s quite glorious, in fact, and relatively speaking, it feels like a second Indian Summer.

Truth be told, this has been a very mild autumn by Halifax (and even Maritime) standards. There are way more leaves left in the trees than usual. In fact, when I called my mother on her birthday, I reminded her about our drive to Fundy National Park on her birthday last year, and how we teased her that her birthday should be earlier in October so that all the fall foliage wouldn’t be over when we’d go on such a drive. But had we done that drive this year, there would have been plenty of leaves left.

Feeling that I desperately needed some time away from the computer, I decided to take Friday off and go on a “nowhere”—an aimless drive in the country to see the fall leaves—and I asked Stephanie to come along. I know of a lot of places in this province that few tourists would ever find or, for that matter, bother noticing, in that “It must piss God off for someone to walk by the color purple and not notice it” manner, as Shug told Celie in The Color Purple. In fact, at one point along a rural highway, we both stopped talking and found ourselves slackjawed at the beauty that surrounded us. And I was reminded once again of how I discovered many of these places by accident when I got my first car, Guildo, and would take off on nowheres all the time.

I’ve always been sensitive to my surroundings, but I think I’ve become even more so in recent years. This year, my trips to the beach were even more calming and inspiring than usual. I really paid attention to the changes from week to week—how the lilies came and went, then the roses, then the thistles… And several times, walking back to my car, I would stop along the trail some distance from the water and listen to the silence. A few times, I was with friends on the walk back and I forced them to stop and shut up just so that we could all listen. I think that gave them further insight into why this place is so magical to me.

But now the time has fallen back this weekend, and although it’s only 5:00, the sun has set. I try not to think too much about how we’re a good seven months away from the next opportunity to go sunbathing naked at Crystal Crescent. But I’m thinking about finding a way of escaping to Montreal for a few days this winter, and possibly convincing one of my beach buddies to come along. I think we’d have fun.