Depending on how far north my wanderings have taken me, I have heard various months described as the cruelest month of the year. Usually a month got a bad name because there was a nasty transition from winter to spring. Mud can emotionally scar almost anyone.
When we lived on a dirt road in Saint Croix Cove, Nova Scotia, March was a bad month because it was then that the frost often came out of the road and turned it into an almost impassable mess.
On our farm in Tay Creek, New Brunswick, April was a cruel month. Just when you thought winter was over, you would get slammed with a big snow storm or a spell of cold rain at 33F. Melting snow can create some of the most challenging mud.
In Roanoke, Virginia, I have found February my most challenging month. The plants are trying to bloom, and then like we had on February 19, 2012, a snow storm will whack you back into the reality of winter. Usually the snow is followed by a few days of high winds just to remind you that it wasn’t a mistake.
The most challenging month along the Southern Outer Banks is the one that lets us dream of summer before it actually has arrived. Sometimes if spring is late, April can be our most challenging month. This year with temperatures reaching close to 80F in Carteret County on March 1, March is already starting out as a challenging month for those of us who love to be out on the water.
While I love the local strawberries that we sometimes enjoy in March, I have to admit that it is the month drives me crazy here on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. The temperature can be perfect for boating, and either the wind is blowing too much or much of our water has disappeared.
As I took my boat for a little spin on leap day, I could only hope that if March stays warm that I can resist going for a long boat ride. The temperature even before noon was well over 70F, but as I idled along Raymond’s Gut, I could tell that I was in barely two feet of water at an hour before mid-tide. Most of the year, we have three feet of water, but March always seems to a time when water is hard to find.
At the same time as I glanced longingly out at the White Oak River, I could tell it would take a ride well up on the wave tops to keep from having a rough trip down the river to Swansboro and the Intracoastal Waterway.
So there I was in my boat on February 29 and the temperature was already tempting me to think about boating. Most of March will be like that except that I will give in a few times and likely end up with some regrets.
While the water temperature is not bad for this time of year, wind and lack of water usually make for difficult boating in March. Likely, my March boating will just be short trips in preparation for an April which one can hope might be more friendly to a day on the water.
Fortunately that anticipation of the first great day on the water is almost as enjoyable as the actual day. The more I dream about it, the better the actual event is. Even if I have to wait until June 1, the wait will be worth it. There is nothing in the world like a dazzling day on the water here among the marshes of the Crystal Coast.