Today we might look forward to milder weather during the winter season. These warmer temperatures are a welcome break from the cold, darker days of winter.
If you were living in the Virginia backcountry of the mid to late 1700's - you would have a much different outlook on the season called Indian Summer.
Joseph Doddridge, living on the frontier when he was about 13 years old, later wrote this first person account of what Indian Summer meant in his time...
"As connected with the history of the Indian wars of the western country, it may not be amiss to give an explanation of the term "Indian Summer"
A backwoodsman seldom hears this expression without feeling a chill of horror, because it brings to his mind the painful recollections of its original application.
'...during the long continued Indian wars sustained by the first settlers of the west, they enjoyed no peace excepting in the winter season, when, owing to the severity of the weather, the Indians were unable to make their excursions into the settlements. The onset of winter was therefore hailed as a jubilee by the early inhabitants of the country, who,throughout the spring and early part of the fall, has been cooped up in their little uncomfortable forts, and subjected to all the distress of the Indian wars.
"At the approach of winter, therefore, all the farmers, excepting the owner of the fort, removed to their cabins on their farms...All was bustle and hilarity in preparing for winter, by gathering in the corn, digging potatoes,fattening hogs, and repairing the cabins. To our forefathers the gloomy months of winter were more pleasant than the zephyrs and the flowers of May."
" It , however, sometimes happened, after the apparent onset of winter, the weather became warm, the smoky time commenced, and lasted for a considerable number of days. This was the Indian Summer, because it afforded the Indians another opportunity of visiting the settlements with their destructive warfare. ...the melting of the snow...and the warmth of the sun chilled every heart with horror. The apprehension of another visit from the Indians, and of being driven back to the detested fort, was painful in the highest degree..."