High Desert Hoofbeats
Gypsy summer...
by Sena Taylor Hauer
Sep 28, 2017 | 299 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Fall came in like a lion. The week of wind we just experienced left me with major roof damage to an outbuilding, but it pales in comparison to what others are experiencing in the wake of natural disasters around the globe.

Hurricane Harvey seemed awful in Houston — and it was — but it has been overshadowed by hurricane assaults in the Caribbean, Florida, and worst of all, Puerto Rico. Repeat earthquakes in Mexico are piling damage on top of damage. There was even a 3-plus-magnitude earthquake in Park City. Western wildfires have destroyed historic lodges in Glacier National Park, not to mention ranches and thousands of acres of forests. And Bali has a volcano that’s going to erupt soon.

So who am I to complain about a barn roof?

My biggest worry when I have property damage is who is going to fix it, and how much worse the damage may get until repairs can be made. Moab is abuzz with construction activity, and it seems that any person or business with skills and integrity is too busy to take on another job.

The guy that built my hay barn is not from Moab. Experience tells me to not use him again, and even if I could, he’s not available until November. Luckily, just luckily, there are some Moab folks who plan to be here with hammers in hand on Thursday. I’m thankful for good local help. Until then, we will keep putting tarps over our haystack, which has become a daily chore as the wind blows them off again and again.

I’ve had a feeling that our seasons might turn from hot to winter. Many cottonwoods are looking stressed out from the strange summer, and I fear that their green leaves will turn dingy instead of golden yellow. When my husband peered at the thermostat in our house Sunday night I yelled at him, “Don’t touch that! We’re not turning the heater on yet!” But when it was already 69 degrees inside, and night temperatures falling to 40, I went down into the basement and switched the various heat pumps and whatnots over from summer to winter settings. And I set the dial to 70 degrees.

We haven’t even paid for the air-conditioning we needed last month, and now we need heat? We surely are in store for an Indian Summer.

That term, Indian Summer, generally references an unseasonable warm and dry period after a killing frost sometime between late September and the end of October. Its origins are hazy, sometimes referring to the possibility that Native Americans described this weather pattern to Europeans when they came to the new world. Sometimes the term is used metaphorically, as when a person might relive the happy conditions of his or her youth.

The period of mild weather prior to winter is common in other portions of the world that have four-season climates. For example, in Germany and its sister countries, it is often called “Altweibersommer,” or Old Women’s Summer. Interestingly, in Bulgaria it is also referred to as “Gypsy Summer” or “Poor Man’s Summer”. The period of pleasantness is so well-liked that it has a lot of names, as many of us enjoy the last gasps of comfortable weather before winter storms in.

In Turkey folks call it pastirma yazi, because late fall is the best time for making pastrami. And in temperate parts of South America it's sometimes called varanico, or some variation of that word which means “Little Summer.” That area of the globe being opposite of ours, their little summer can occur in April or May.

I know our Indian Summer — if we have one — won’t generally occur until November, after we’ve had a hard frost. But the early days of this week felt a bit like an Indian Summer, with cooler, calmer days after the previous week’s gales. It’s sacrilege to ever complain about storms in our desert because we always need every drop of moisture we can get.

At this point, I just hope the weather will hold out long enough for the construction guys to get the roof fixed on my hay barn. Trying to keep things in good repair, no matter the weather, makes me feel like an old woman who would rather be a gypsy in a world where it’s summer all the time.

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