Winter sunset over the ice in Raymond's Gut

Winter sunset over the ice in Raymond’s Gut

According to the weather folks this cold weather as 2014 begins is the worst that we have seen in a few decades.  The icy sunset picture of Raymond’s Gut tends to lend some credence to their reports.

While part of me might suspect that the dire reporting is just the ruminations of weather forecasters sitting comfortably in warm studios, I did see a Tweet from Kathryn, a weather friend, working at the Weather Channel. Her studio in Atlanta was so cold that she was wearing gloves at her keyboard.  Maybe there is something to this polar vortex.

The first week of January, 2014, has been the coldest weather that we have experienced since we moved to North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. The normally watery gut behind our home was frozen over January 8. We had a few very frustrated great egrets and great blue herons looking for some open water. My winter English peas which were in full bloom earlier in the week did not look very happy after the over twenty-four hours of below freezing temperatures.

Of course the peas were just an experiment to see if I could get away with growing something in January which probably should not grow in January even on the North Carolina coast.  We did have a winter back in 2007 when we only had seventeen hours of below freezing temperatures the whole winter.

However as an ex-Canadian, it is really hard to get very excited over cold weather which at one time in my life I would have considered a balmy reprieve from the almost unrelenting winter cold of Maritime Canada.

This much-hyped  cold weather reminded me most of what we used to call a “January thaw.” When we lived in Canada, just north of Fredericton, New Brunswick, we would get excited when the daytime temperatures would rise to the mid teens.  For those of us who were veterans of the cold weather, we could actually take our mittens off and work with our bare hands.  Here along the coast of North Carolina a brief visit to the mid teens has resulted in school delays of two hours.

New Brunswick is a place where snow and cold can be dangerous, but people do respect it there.  You know you are headed for serious cold when today’s low temperature is tomorrow high temperature and the same thing happens each day for a week until it seems like your whole world is frozen solid. Sometimes in central New Brunswick it gets cold enough that it almost hurts to take a breath.

While it is hard to believe, we saw the temperature dip to minus forty during our time in Canada.   Amazingly the winds and snow during that particular cold snap were also driven by a Nor’easter. Unfortunately I had to ride a tractor around in that weather to feed our cattle, and the tractor did not have a cab.  Still I survived to tell the tale.

North Carolina’s coast is almost the opposite. Now that our Canadian January thaw has headed back to Canada, our high temperature today will be tomorrow’s low temperature. We will follow that pattern until our high temperature will approach seventy degrees Fahrenheit this weekend.

If it gets that warm, I will likely switch back to shorts.  That is my normal uniform here for something over nine months of each year.

When I look back on the last seven years of living here along the Southern Outer Banks, I have worn my long underwear three or four times. I did put my hiking boots on for this last cold spell but only for an hour long hike through the marshes. I still wore my crocs out our driveway even in the coldest weather to retrieve our morning newspaper.

It is really hard to complain about winter temperatures that never fall below the double digits. That is especially true when our temperature rarely fails to make it to fifty degrees Fahrenheit even in a cold month like this January.

We did have a dose of cold weather the likes of which has not visited the area in a number of years.  It is no reason for panic. We will probably not see another one like it for a while and that would be just fine with me.

Sometimes it does not hurt to have a taste of something which makes you appreciate what you all too often take for granted. This recent cold weather is going to help me really enjoy the warm weather that we should see this second weekend of January.  The next time I get my boat out on the river, I will remember the very cold water that was in the river when I ventured out last weekend.

If we can get through this cold spell without any trout being stunned and with lots of open water in the next few days, the cold spell will be just a good reminder of how lucky we are to live in place where winter is not eleven months of snow and one month of damn poor sledding. Actually winter in Tay Creek, New Brunswick was only seven or eight months, but you probably get the snowy picture.

I can look forward to putting my tomato plants in the ground by the middle of March. My tiny seedlings are already growing inside.  That and the prospect of some water that is begging to be waded are all I need to make me forget this recent cold spell.

My next Kindle book, The Crystal Coast, 100 Pictures, 1000 Words, should be out before the end of January.  It will be an inexpensive ($2.99) way to have a look at our beautiful area.

By early February I will be sending out our first Crystal Coast Newsletter.  If you would enjoy reading a brief email about what is happening in our area, please sign up below.  Your information will only be used for this monthly newsletter and will never be shared with anyone or used for any other purpose.

Sign-Up for monthly Crystal Coast Life Newsletter