The Shenandoah Valley as well as much of Virginia will experience temperatures in the 80s for the third day in a row. Since it’s October 20, and since the Valley had frost two nights last week, we are now experiencing what is commonly known as Indian summer.
What, you may ask, is Indian summer? It’s exactly what we’re going through right now — higher-than-average temps after the first frost of fall.
Think of it as a reprieve. I often imagine the mountain pioneers who lived in the hollows of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains as they prepared for the hardship of a long, cold winter isolated in lone cabins and rustic farmsteads. Indian summer to them must have been a god-send, that extra gift of warm, sunny days that allowed time to complete any left-over tasks. As the urgency of impending winter became greater, putting a finish on survival chores was helped with Indian summer. Life and death, for pioneers as well as their livestock, depended on their ability to be fully prepared — stocked with food and fuel to survive the long months of snow, freezing temperatures, blowing winds, and loneliness.
These days most of us just enjoy the nice days and take the opportunity to slow down a bit and motor on leisurely drives through those same mountains looking for autumn’s annual color show along the high ridges and on back roads. It is truly one of the most beautiful times of the year.
So enjoy our Indian summer and, if you find time, head to western Virginia to take in the color and splendor of October.
It’s autumn in Virginia….
Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Highland County, Virginia