We are making progress towards spring. The last snowstorm that had a shot at the coast fortunately missed us. Since then the weather has steadily improved.
As February has progressed spring plants have started showing signs of life. On a February 25 trip to Jacksonville, we saw a whole row of daffodils blooming and then a few brightly colored tulips.
By the last weekend of February, a few daffodils were blooming at our real estate office, and the Bradford pear trees at the gate of our subdivision started showing off some early leaves. We now even have a dandelion blooming in our yard.
It will be a few months before you regularly see ocean water with the emerald hues of summer like the first picture on this page, but when the conditions are the right it can also happen in spring.
Early spring is our time for checking out local attractions. We recently made a trip to Beaufort, and I took some pictures to use in the update of my Beaufort Travel Guide. I expect to have it posted in the next few days.
One of the things that we always do in Beaufort besides walk the docks is drive the full length of Front Street. It is great way to see what is happening in town. After a tough economic winter, I was not surprised to find a couple of stores gone. “Fishtown” has seen tough times before, so I would expect some new businesses by summer.
Our big treat came a little over half down Front Street towards the boat ramp. We caught sight of several ponies grazing on the shore of the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve which is more popularly know as Carrot Island. I counted nine ponies, but my wife could only come up with eight.
The reason was pretty simple, I was looking through a telephoto lens and could make out a foal at its mother’s side. It is a sure sign of spring to see some new life especially after this challenging winter.
The temperature of our area waters has warmed dramatically to 60F in the White Oak. Warm waters surrounding us offer some protection against a return to cold weather. With air temperatures regularly in the fifties, sixties, and sometimes even the seventies, it seem reasonable to believe that winter is finished with us on the Crystal Coast.
I am sure a little warmer water is a treat for the herons and offers the rest of us fishermen the hope of fish starting to bite..
Standing around in water barely above freezing is not much of a challenge to great blue herons, but from their expressions, it seems reasonable to think that they must be tired of winter by this time of year. Winter has been a long one this year especially for those of us who do mind icy breezes from Canada. As always we will get through the remainder of winter and everything that spring can throw at us. Spring always comes, and we always survive the rocky road to warmth.
And spring is one of my favorite times. It can be is especially beautiful on the coast. We are only six weeks away from strawberries and the explosion of flowers at Tryon Palace along with all the beautiful azaleas that are planted around area homes.
Still spring weather can be challenging. One day the wind can be blow from one direction and the next day it can howl from the opposite direction or drop off to nothing like the picture in this section. The two linked pictures and the one in this section were all taken within 24 hours at the same inlet. The wind can actually blow so much in the spring that we have very little water at our docks, or we can get more water than normal pushed up the river. Sometimes low tide looks like high tide. You just have to be ready to roll with the punches.
And if the wind isn’t blowing, there is always the possibility of fog that can can come from nowhere. When the water and air have such different temperatures, it is easy to create some strange weather. I actually don’t mind a little fog because it generally signals that we are in a season of change, and change from the winter that we have had is long overdue. We are getting a taste of better weather, but it can turn sour quickly. This past weekend, we left a nice sunny day in Beaufort and by the time we were approaching downtown EI, homes in Swansboro and Emerald Isle started disappearing into a fog bank.
In spite of the quick changes, we are already to the point of the weather being very pleasant. It is nice enough to take a walk both in the morning and evening. One day the last week of February, I actually had shorts and sneakers on as I did my afternoon walk. I also caught myself on my dock barefooted with shorts and tee shirts. It was actually very comfortable.
With all the signals pointing in the right direction, we can safely write off further snows. I am pleased that even the remotest possibility of snow in our forecast has disappeared. I can take the pleasantly cool days and wind because I know that it won’t be long until the warmth of summer arrives, and I will be missing the nice cool air. I moved here to get away from ice and snow, and so far I have yet to have to use my snow shovel.
Unfortunately, spring even on the Carolina coast is not in full bloom as of the first of March. It is still pretty easy to find some winter colors on the river. The skies are still clear with little humidity, and most sunsets look more like winter than spring at this point.
We do live very close to the weather here along the Crystal Coast. It is part of the attraction of the area. I have been watching for signs of spring since the middle of February, and recently I have been pleased to see some signals that we are beginning to heat up. The weather has been good enough to let me get out on the water a few times without being completely bundled up.
My winter goal is to do two trips to Swansboro each month by water. I think that I only did a partial one in early January, but in late January I made it to Jones Island, and on February 6, I made it all the way into Swansboro Harbor and back to our dock without freezing.
No matter where you live, even in my ex-corporate home, Northern Virginia, people wonder what is in store for them during spring.
We have seen far more warm temperatures here on the coast in the waning days of February than some of our northern friends. We really have little to complain about, especially since the weather has been much worse in places like the Northeast and Canada.
The fact is that if you live in the middle latitudes during this time of year, finding a place with worse weather is not very hard.
I don’t mind living where weather matters, it keeps you alive and in touch with the world. A nice hike. which brings a little chill to your face, just makes that warm cup of tea taste better when you get back.
While my New England friends are talking about fishing in potholes, we are actually planning to be out on the water and fishing very soon. I even renewed my fishing license at Dudley’s this weekend. After that I made a check of the water temperatures this past Sunday afternoon. It was nice to see a water temperature that wouldn’t bring on instant hypothermia if you happened to fall in the water. Good weather in the spring is just a great opportunity to grab some blue water time that normally isn’t available.
I was pleased to see on my trip Sunday, February 27, that the White Oak River water temperature has risen to 60F from its low point of 37F earlier in the winter. Hopefully I won’t have to do any further ice breaking for the birds. I am expecting the warmer temperatures will get the fish moving. A few trout have already been caught by some really dedicated anglers.
With some of my recent traveling, I have almost given up listening to the weather predictions. The big misses are enough to make you want to throw your smartphone away. You would think that with all the technology at our finger tips that at least tomorrow’s weather would pretty well be covered, but I guess there is nothing easy about the weather. February 28, we made it to 74F. Today, March 1, we only made it to 54F. The weathermen managed to get that right, but they sure missed the four inches of snow and three inches of rain that socked us earlier in February.
Sometimes I think the birds are better at predicting weather. Surely local expertise works in weather and in real estate as well. Speaking of local expertise, I just finished my newly revised Emerald Isle Travel Guide for 2011. I don’t think you can find a better Emerald Isle travel guide.
I also have posted the first page to my new website. Why I ended up with a new website is a long story, but it is one that I will be sharing soon. In the meantime enjoy the first tastes of spring. It won’t be long until we are sticking tomato plants into the ground and dreaming of watermelons and corn on the cob. Make certain you mark your calendars for the 20th annual Emerald Isle Saint Patrick's Day Festival to be held on March 12.
Why we love it here?
It is hard to say that any place is perfect. There always a balance between what you like and what you don't like. That also changes as you age. At one time I was close to homesteading in Newfoundland.
Today I would steer you to my articles, Ten ways Carteret County met our needs, Why I love living in Carteret County, and to the Crystal Coast Electronic Village Homepage as answers to why we have chosen this area.
From that reading it is easy to understand why we enjoy living in a small subdivision near Cape Carteret. It is what we were looking for in a place to live. It is close to services and close to the beach but not on the beach. We have a dock behind the house and are close to some great trails. I can ride my bike in the neighborhood and not face a lot of traffic.
I also use my kayak on the White Oak River and have learned to love exploring the river and surrounding waters with our skiff.
This area also has some great festivals like the Newport Pig Cookoff, the Emerald Isle Saint Patrick's Day, the Swansboro Mullet Festival and the Swansboro Oyster Roast. We continue to be impressed with the Emerald Isle Christmas Parade.
It is a friendly area with a great future. So right now it is the spot for us. I often write about the area in my other websites. If you are a very avid reader, you might find some similar content on multiple sites, but usually the content is fairly specific to the sites.
These are additional sites might or might not be linked in the above post.
Crystal Coast Life
Crystal Coast Life Blog
Crystal Coast Blog 09
Crystal Coast Blog 08
Some archived articles