Gradually, the term Indian summer has spread beyond its American origins. First to England, replacing a bevy of poetic names—All Halloween Summer, in Shakespeare’s day; St. Luke’s little summer, St. Martin’s Summer—with that single term. Then to France, capturing the popular imagination with the success of Joe Dassin’s classic homage, “L’été indien.” (Now that I think about it, I likely heard the name in French before I ever did in English; Joe Dassin—himself American born—was always popular in Russia, and I’d hummed the tune many a time before its meaning actually sunk in.) And the Indians and old women aren’t alone. Over the years, many others have laid claim to those days of waning heat. In the southern Slavic countries, it’s known as gypsy summer. I’d like to think that has something to do with the colorful vibrancy of the gypsy music and the sound of guitar strings by the open fire. In Italy, it’s a time of year owned by San Martino, or St. Martin.
more from Maria Konnikova at Paris Review here.