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Gossamer

Coming to the end of Week 9 at Carleton, I just want to record that feeling of gratefulness for having two beautiful fall days at this season-turning juncture. To be reminded of late summer after the previous week’s snow is one of the things that has been accorded some sort of significance in this life.

I have an essay to write, so I’m not going to begin the attempt to spin out the web of things which seem to signify, but this is one of the threads:

c.1300, “spider threads spun in fields of stubble in late fall,” apparently from gos “goose” + sumer “summer” (cf. Swedish sommertrad “summer thread”). The reference might be to a fancied resemblance of the silk to goose down, or because geese are in season then. The German equivalent mädchensommer (literally “girls’ summer”) also has a sense of “Indian summer,” and the English word originally may have referred to a warm spell in autumn before being transferred to a phenomenon especially noticable then. Cf. obsolete Scottish go-summer “period of summer-like weather in late autumn.” Meaning “anything light or flimsy” is from c.1400. The adjective sense “filmy” is attested from 1802.

(Source: Online Etymology Dictionary)

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