Last month, I
wrote about the Little Ice Age, a period of about 500 years from the 1300s to
the 1800s with colder-than-normal temperatures through most of the northern
Without a Summer” refers to 1816, near the end of the Little Ice Age, when
summer failed to arrive in the Eastern United States and most of Europe. Snow
and freezing temperatures dominated the months of June, July, and August.
Southern states also experienced unseasonably cold temperatures. China and
India suffered from monsoons and the resulting floods.
Mount Tambora erupted in Indonesia, spewing ash into the atmosphere. It was the
largest eruption in over one thousand years. This was after three years of
significant volcanic activity worldwide. A fine layer of ash blocked the sun,
lowering global temperatures.
created a red haze in the sky, particularly noticeable at sunrise and sunset.
It shows up in paintings of the time. The coloring gave a hint of despair.
Many areas suffered from famine, leading to rioting and looting. Some regions didn’t experience food shortages, but prices skyrocketed everywhere because crops could be exported.
Food crises only lasted for a season, but the Year Without a Summer created some long term effects around the globe.
widespread flooding caused the cholera bacteria to mutate into a more resilient
strain. No one had immunity, and many died. This strain emerged in Asia, and by
1831, it had reached Western Europe. The following year, cases were found in
America. Even today, it has not been completely eradicated.
England, the harsh conditions pushed westward expansion. Farmers searched for a
more hospitable climate. More than ten thousand people moved out of Vermont
alone. Who knows how long settlement of the United States would have taken if
summer snow hadn’t prodded people to new territories?
Lack of feed for horses caused German inventor Karl Drais to design the velocipede, the precursor to modern bicycles. The human-powered device didn’t require animals or feed for them.
mood of the cold and red winter skies led to the creation of Frankenstein. Mary
Shelley spent a Swiss holiday indoors with her friends, where they made up
ghost stories while pondering the unrelenting cold and darkness. She drafted
the Frankenstein story there.
Lastly, the Year Without a Summer increased the world’s supply of opium. In China, farmers needed more durable and profitable crops. They turned to poppies. This gave rise to the “Golden Triangle” of opium production.
The sky eventually cleared, and warm weather returned the following year, but the summer of 1816 left lasting impacts on the world.
when you are slathering aloe on your sunburn, things could be worse. It could
be a another year without a summer.
Sarah’s Heart” in the Thimbles and Threads Collection
historical romances celebrating the arts of sewing and quilting.
Sarah’s Heart by Suzanne Norquist
seeks a quiet life as a seamstress. She doesn’t need anyone, especially her
dead husband’s partner. If only the Emporium of Fashion would stop stealing her
customers, and the local hoodlums would leave her sons alone. When she rejects
her husband’s share of the mine, his partner Jack seeks to serve her through
other means. But will his efforts only push her further away?
Suzanne Norquist is the author of two novellas, “A Song for Rose” in A Bouquet of Brides Collection and “Mending Sarah’s Heart” in the Thimbles and Threads Collection Everything fascinates her. She has worked as a chemist, professor, financial analyst, and even earned a doctorate in economics. Research feeds her curiosity, and she shares the adventure with her readers. She lives in New Mexico with her mining engineer husband and has two grown children. When not writing, she explores the mountains, hikes, and attends kickboxing class.