Indian summer, brisk autumn, and the winged monkeys in between

Morning Mist Fog Cobweb Landscape indian summer
KRiemer / Pixabay
Soundtrack in my head: Beat Happening, “Indian Summer”

Many people would call today “Indian summer.” I think this was the last warm day of 2006.

Today hit about 80 degrees and I spent a lot of my break time outside. Yesterday was similarly warm and I took advantage of “Casual Day” at work to wear shorts, which will perhaps be the last opportunity for me to do so this year—unless I decide to make a bold (and cold) Casual Day fashion statement sometime around December.

The leaves in the neighborhood around work were green yesterday but exploded into a lot of bright yellows today. I don’t quite understand the science behind what creates ideal conditions for fall colors, but judging by the change I’ve seen just in the last 24 hours, warm weather seems to do interesting things to the fall colors.

The warm Indian summer also does interesting things to my allergies, as the leaf mold and ragweed conspire to throw me one last big histamine hurrah. The warm air seems to make the pollen and mold spores dance even more. I find myself imagining them as the source of the haze I see in the air.

But I can feel the air changing as well. Yesterday and today, strong thunderstorms have been barreling through Wisconsin from the northwest. There’s a severe thunderstorm watch lasting until the early a.m. tomorrow. Some storms last night reportedly knocked out power for 300,000 people in the Chicago area. We weren’t hit hard, but last night around 7 p.m., the sky looked really scary. It was dark out—sunset had already passed, but I could see black clouds moving swiftly in on the area like the winged monkeys sent by the Wicked Witch of the West. Lightning was everywhere and I could hear rolling thunder. I had thought about running a couple of errands, but the appearance of the sky convinced me that I should head right home. When I got home, I told my housemates that it looked “somewhat apocalyptic” outside, leading one housemate to quip, “Thanks for the heads-up. I’ll make sure to delete the porn on my computer. I want to get in good with the Big Man.”

Of course, the end of eighty-degree weather does not mean the end of enjoyment of the outdoors—indeed, for me it’s just the beginning. I’m a pretty happy camper when the outdoor temperature is in the 50’s. I find myself eyeballing places I want to walk while the walking is still good—Tenney Park, James Madison Park, the hilly neighborhoods east of the Capitol, and the Willy Street neighborhood along Lake Monona. Lakes Mendota and Monona don’t freeze over until close to the New Year. So I’ll be sure to take advantage of the last opportunities to enjoy the autumn scenery while the walking is still good.

Meanwhile, if more winged monkeys descend upon Madison tonight, I’ll be sure to have a bunch of bananas ready.

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