This post was originally written January 29, 2013.
Certainly a couple of years passing have only deepened my walking addiction. I love to walk even more than I did when I first wrote this post. Being able to open a door and go for an easy walk in a remarkably peaceful place was one of the reasons that we chose Carteret County as a place to live. We used to live on a mountain overlooking Roanoke, Virginia. Because of the very steep hill by our house, walking was something you really had to want to do. It helped to have a big dog that needed to be walked a lot.
Now that we live near the coast, walking has become a passion with me. I try to go on a couple of walks every day. I did start out as a fair weather walker. In my early days of walking on the coast, as long the sun was shining which it does a lot here along the Southern Outer Banks, it was hard to keep me inside. It used to be if some clouds and fog were mixed in, I could easily convince myself to stay busy with inside work. That has changed over time but I can still be a reluctant walker on especially gloomy or particularly cold and windy days.
Fortunately most mornings in the winter here along the White Oak River are nice enough to pull me outside. I really enjoy wandering along the dock that is pictured at the top of the post. The photo is an afternoon shot, but I also visit there in the mornings. I usually time my morning dock walk so that the sun has melted any frost on the boardwalk, but sometimes I am too early and have to be careful where I step. I usually walk the dock a few times a day as part of my routine which sometimes gets me up over twenty miles per week. I like the dock because it offers a great vantage point and sometimes I get a real treat like a visit from our otters or ospreys.
While I try to walk vigorously, often I just have to stop and enjoy the scenery and watch our visitors to the marsh. Egrets, herons, ducks, and otters can yield a surprise around every corner. If all goes well I manage to walk around 1.5 miles before breakfast. When the sun is shining and its warmth is evident on my back, I tried to extend my morning walk to better than two miles. Over the years as walking has become so much a part of my routine, even a good dose of clouds will not keep me inside.
January is the only month out of the year when almost half of our days are cloudy ones. It is not unusual for me to do less walking when it is cloudy or rainy. What is surprising is how much I miss my walks on those rare times when it is a little too nasty to be outside.
Recently after a storm the sun tried to sneak out for a few minutes and I headed off on a walk. Seeing and feeling the sun made it a much nicer walk than the one I had the previous day when the sun was still hiding. It is certainly nicer walking in the sun than it is walking along a gut that is frozen over. While we see some cold weather each year, ice on the gut is not something we like down here. It is especially distressing when all the water freezes. Fortunately that rarely happens
While we will be swinging from warm to cold back to warm during the last week of January, the cloudy days mixed with some clear ones is what we expect of January. This time of year it is hard to get the weather we want, but with weather there is little choice but to take what you get. The truth is that our winter is not too bad. The closer we get to February, the better our odds are of some early warmth. Even as January slides away I am getting a little itchy to start working in the yard.
The sun was only out for a few moments while I was finishing this one afternoon. However, it was out enough to warm things up and get me to open my office window. I was watching a pelican from my desk chair and I thought if I whistled at him, he might turn his head a little. The trick worked and the pelican picture turned out very nice. The pelican picture is now part of my one of my winter bird picture collections compiled from all those hikes.
As February draws near and spring is on the horizon, we will be seeing more and more sunshine. I’m ready for it. Maybe this next warm stretch will provide enough heat to do more than just a quick boat ride down to Swansboro. A long boat ride would be a nice late winter distraction.
Having the right weather and a pleasant place for walking helped to bring us to North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks.