Welcome to Indian fall

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer January 12, 2012 10:50 pm

OK, so it’s not uncommon to see people in La Grande wearing shorts in early January, riding bicycles or playing Frisbee golf on the Eastern Oregon University campus.

Yes, there are crazy people running amok.

This year, however, shorts seem the order of the season. After a snow flurry Tuesday morning, Northeast Oregon again basks in the glory of Indian fall.

You may not have heard of this meteorological phenomenon.

Most likely, though, you’ve heard of Indian summer. If you’re politically correct, you covered your ears and went na-na-na-na-na.

Indian summer is a meteorological phenomenon that generally occurs in early fall. A killing frost is followed by warm, sunny, hazy days ideal for enjoying the fall colors — and laughing at all the freeze-dried mosquitoes littering the ground.

Indian fall is a meteorological phenomenon that occurs in the winter. It’s when people are playing golf when they normally should be skiing. It’s when the studs are getting worn off the car tires one revolution of bare pavement at a time. It’s when the snow shovel sits idle in the corner singing the “I won’t work” song.

Of course, in these days of political correctness, we are probably supposed to refer to this unusual time of the year as “Native American fall,” or, as the Associated Press word mavens would have it, “American Indian fall.”

Sure, some political correctness is invaluable. Despite First Amendment rights, it is wrong to make offense in terms of gender, race, culture, age, sexual orientation, religion, disabilities or ownership of gerbils.

Most years our winter clouds are offensive, in need of anger management counseling. This year they have turned pacifist.

Members of the Sky Is Falling club have had to find other pursuits, like watching a parade of utterly meaningless college football bowl games on TV.

People with nervous twitches gained in past years of winter driving in Northeast Oregon are almost healed up and like new, causing the therapy industry economic hardship.

Many of us feel deprived. We miss the chance for collective hysterics over the inadequacies of snow plowing — or laughing at the Portland TV broadcasters going crazy over every flake.

We miss the mass group panic of rush-hour driving in a snowstorm.

Even our wind chimes are getting bored.

However, even if this Indian fall has been as exciting as watching pigs wallow, enjoy it while it lasts. We may never see its kind in these parts again.

Before long, we’ll likely be back to shoveling several feet of global warming — and wondering where our bicycle got buried in the drifts.

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