A frozen coastal gut

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Icy Raymond's Gut, January 25, 2014

Icy Raymond’s Gut, January 25, 2014

I first heard the term  “gut” to describe a body of water on a trip to Newfoundland in 1972.  Gut when used in that context means a narrow passage or a strait.  When we moved to the North Carolina coast in 2007, I was happy to find out that our home was on Raymond’s Gut which is a narrow passage out to the White Oak River.

Since learning gut was part of the name of the water behind our home, I have not been shy in using it to the describe that beautiful body of water that I get to enjoy almost every day.  If you do a Google search on Raymond’s Gut, most of what you find will be articles that I have written.

I have observed the marshes around Raymond’s Gut in just about every kind of weather that you can imagine from Hurricane Irene to snowstorms.   In the seven years that we have lived here along the gut, we have seen just about as many snowstorms as hurricanes.

Life here revolves around the water and the weather. We cannot ignore either of them because they are such a big part of our lives.  My articles talk about everything from high water in the gut to how hot it can be here when summer has its grip on the area.  The wind can be doing anything from blowing a gale to absolutely calm.  The water temperature in the gut runs from the upper thirties in a very cold winter to the upper eighties and sometimes even gets to nearly ninety degrees Fahrenheit in an extremely hot August.

Raymond’s Gut rarely freezes over or stays exceptionally hot for very long, but we did have a spell back in 2011 when I felt compelled the help the herons and egrets by using my boat to break ice in the gut.  The winter of 2014 has already brought ice to the gut a couple of days, but fortunately it has not lasted long enough to be a problem yet.

That does not mean that we have enjoyed our normal warm winter when we rarely get below fifty degrees Fahrenheit.  The only reason we had only one day of ice the third week this January was that the wind was blowing so hard that the water in the gut had a hard time completely freezing.  The marsh ground and just about everything else was frozen solid.  Fortunately we have a weekend warmup before we descend once again into the east coast’s 2014 deep freeze again next week.

While this has been a very cold winter with kayaking only in my dreams and fond memories, it is hard to say what the ramifications will be for our fish and wildlife. We will be back out on the water regularly sooner than one might expect, but it will be a long time if ever before we know the impact on our local fish.

I found a dead Carolina anole, one of our normally green-in-the-summer lizards, on our doorstep recently.  That is a sign of an unusually cold winter in a place which only endured seventeen hours of below freezing weather in the whole winter of 2006-2007.  We usually enjoy a feast of January lettuce.  This year we had to cut it early.  Maybe this extreme cold will kill off some fire ants, but I am a lot more worried about the local trout than I am about the ants.

The saving grace for our area is that we can count on our weather to have more pronounced swings than it does inland.  While areas inland from us can be much colder or hotter than we are for longer periods of time,  we rarely get stuck in a weather pattern.  However, sometimes the cold inland weather from the Canadian shield does manage to find us for a brief time.  We can just hope it does not become a resident like it does in Chicago and Boston.

While our coastal weather is a riddle that none of us have figured out, we do enjoy lots of pleasant weather. The great weather, beaches, blue skies and the wonderful access to water are the reasons most of us are drawn to the area.  To those of us who are impatient to be on the water, it might seem like we are always waiting for the waters around us to either cool down or warm up, but the reality is that most of us spend a lot of time out on the water.  That is especially amazing considering the wind complicates the situation more than we like and sometimes keeps us at the dock when we feel almost desperate to be out on the water.  If you think this coastal paradise has us a little spoiled, you are probably right.

I might grumble about the ice-covered gut in the picture in this post, but the reality is that the gut will be completely open by the next morning.  That is just the way our coastal weather works.

If you would like to see some pictures of the spectacular scenery in our area, check out our just published $2.99 Kindle reader book, 100 Pictures, 1000 Words, A Crystal Coast Year.  It is worth clicking on the link just to see the free sample of seven pictures.  Kindle reader software works on just about every platform including iPads and iPhones.

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