10 January 2010
There has been no secret as to what has been missing here on the Crystal Coast the first two weeks of January.
Almost anyone can tell you that the warmth that we often see in January has been missing in action. It does not help any that even Florida has had to endure some cold.
We live in a wonderful spot which I often describe as "almost perfect." My northern friends have taken great pleasure calling and asking about how the boating is during our cold snap.
My only thought is that they are searching for something to take their minds off of all the snow piled around their houses. I have just about got used to our "cold."
Today when it hit 50F, I dropped my boat in the water to run the engine for a few minutes. It actually seemed quite comfortable outside this afternoon. As we were coming home from dinner over on the Island tonight, my wife made the comment that we cannot possibly call this weather cold and keep a straight face.
She went on to say if the weather were truly cold, I might actually zip up my unlined fleece jacket which is the lightest weight jacket that Land's End carries. She also pointed out that I was wearing tennis shoes with no socks.
I will have to admit that my real cold weather clothing is up in the mountains and that we got rid of our Canadian winter clothes many years ago. On our farm in the wilds of central New Brunswick, it was not unusual to have a day when the high temperature was -20F.
On a day like that preparing for spending a few hours outside was something of an ordeal. Besides the standard long underwear, blue jeans, hand knitted wool socks and heavy work shirt, those temperatures required an insulated snow mobile suit. If the wind was really blowing, you might add a down jacket and face mask along with your insulated mittens. Footwear was heavy boots with felt liners that could be taken out and dried at night.
I do not miss those days, and the Crystal Coast is "almost perfect" by nearly any measure.
Yet we have definitely been challenged by the two weeks of temperatures where our lows at night were consistently in the mid-twenties. Fortunately that seems to be over for now. Saturday we might see 60F, and I believe that will take care of any of the remaining ice.
We can be thankful that we have not seen the sound freeze over as I have heard some folks mention happening long ago, but just maybe we will get some benefit out of all this cold. Perhaps it has been cold enough to kill a few a bugs.
I know we have seen some beautiful sunsets due to the cold clear air. I have actually heard a few long term residents admit that they are getting used to the cold.
Now that we are used to these temperatures, just think how warm it will seem when things start to heat up over the next few weeks.
Sometimes it takes a little adversity to make you appreciate what we too often take for granted. I will admit to taking for granted those 50F winter days. Now when I get one, I will truly appreciate it, and if we get some days in the seventies, I will treasure those days and likely take my boat down the river just to enjoy the heat.
Recently I snapped some random area photos and geo-tagged them so that they can be seen on a map. If you would like to explore the area a little, you can find them at this Picasa Web Album.
I have a college roommate who moved to North Carolina from Nova Scotia a couple of years ago. He was tired of cold winters and fighting snow and ice. He still abandons us in the summer for the cool breezes of the Canadian Maritimes.
After this recent historic outbreak of cold, he told me that he was going to Florida to find some real warmth. That was last week. When I checked with him this weekend, it was 39F and raining in Florida. He went through a lot of driving to be only two degrees warmer than us. This winter's cold had penetrated 900 miles south to his location not far from Fort Meyers, Florida.
Even this morning they were down to 33F. A cold trip to Florida is a lesson in how challenging it has been to escape winter this last week. We did find one place where no cold seemed to penetrate. That was our Bluewater Cove living room with the gas fireplace turned on high. It ended up being a great place to survive the 2009-10 "Winter to Remember" and watch a little football.
Since we had already placed ourselves in the deep freeze of the Virginia mountains during the Christmas holidays, this cold has not seemed too severe to us. What worries me is that all those years of experience in the cold are being revived.
What is going to happen when this returns to being a normal North Carolina winter? I might have to wear shorts in March. The cold weather has been serious business with some of our marine life bearing the brunt of the cold.
Every morning this week, the gut behind our home has frozen. Fortunately the White Oak River gets enough tidal action that it is hard for everything to freeze over solid. Since we got above freezing each day and the tide worked on the ice, there was always some ice free water along the edges of the gut. By the end of the week, i think we were all tired of that freshly frozen feeling, but fortunately we had enough warmth on Friday to get some significant open water.
As far as I can tell the White Oak itself stayed relatively ice free. The beaches were not only ice free but almost people free. We drove by Jordan's Seafood around 5 PM on this past Sunday night, and you could even park in front. That is a huge change from the fall when you might have ended up waiting an hour on the outside benches.
I think most people have made the decision to stay inside as much as possible while cooking their own comfort food. In the last couple of weeks, the cold weather has been responsible for bringing to our table Senate Navy Bean Soup, Meatloaf Muffins, Pot Roast, Crock Pot Oatmeal, and homemade Chicken Pastry. If the cold weather will hold another day or two, I just might get some Clam Chowder.
By then I am hoping that we are on the downhill side of the really cold weather. Those temperatures in the high fifties by the end of the week look like a nice respite from cold, and possibly the hint of much better days to come. With all the comfort food, I will need some warm weather for bike riding.
If the cold weather has you wanting to do some virtual touring, try my trip to Morehead City or the one to Emerald Isle. Click the right hand circle for a 3D aerial tour. You will have to install a Google Earth plug-in, but I can guarantee a warm trip while sitting in front of your computer.