Two weeks ago, we drove home from Bozeman, Montana To Boise, Idaho in a blizzard. Growing up in Wyoming both my husband and I are used to winter driving. My husband, Pete, was going slow and had our hazard blinkers on. In a heartbeat, a white truck slid a few feet in front of us and off the road, over the bank towards the river. Pete had a hard time braking to keep from hitting the truck and holding our car on the road. We didn’t stop because we could see the truck behind us had stopped. I called 911. It took us 5 hours to drive from Bozeman to Pocatello (a 4 hour drive in normal conditions). That night there were winter watch warnings out in Montana and Wyoming and a hard freeze in parts of Southwestern, Idaho, impacting even parts of Boise.
Last weekend, we were back to cool mornings turning warm by mid-morning and early afternoon and then rapidly cooling off as the sun sets. Our yard has yet to freeze. We have glorious flowers still blooming but I know some yards in Boise have been touched by frost. When we lived in Wyoming, the flowers would definitely be gone by now. Their blossoms hanging downward and graying a sure sign that winter has snapped their summer glory.
“Indian Summer” refers to unseasonably warm, dry weather in autumn. The term is attributed to the fact that these conditions are very frequent in the areas where Native Americans lived and hunted in the fall, the Mountain West. These are the areas I have lived my entire life; Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, Washington, Colorado and now Idaho. In several of these locations, particularly Wyoming and Montana, one can expect snow as early as August. In Wyoming, we would frequently have hard freezes leading to the loss of the beautiful fall foliage before it really had a chance to change colors. But in Boise, Indian Summer is one of the most glorious times of the year. The trees literally shout, “Look at me! I’m gorgeous.” The warm days encourage folks to take walks along the green belt where colorful falling leaves shuffle underfoot or sit outside with coffee and a newspaper enjoying the day.
The summers are hot in Boise; too hot for my taste frequently hovering around the high nineties to over 100. But when fall arrives, our backyard comes alive with squirrels scurrying to bury acorns, falcons soaring high in the sky, the occasional sighting of a plump owl, coyote and/or deer and gorgeous orange, yellow and red leaves bursting forth every morning.
I’m glad for a whole bunch of reasons that pickup truck didn’t plow us into the river a couple of weeks ago. But the terror it caused me has made me more appreciative of our gorgeous fall weather. One never knows how many seasons we have to appreciate the bounty around us.