There is still plenty of time to enjoy our beaches in the fall
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Cold Weather Finds the Marsh

Even the marsh has to deal with cold weather once in a while

The one certainty with weather along the coast is that it will always surprise you when you least expect it.  As I am writing this the day before Thanksgiving, we have just experienced the temperature rising to 70F at mid-morning and then falling twenty-two degrees to 48F less than ninety minutes later.  

It is not the first time a front has come through here quickly in late fall. At least we can be happy that we have no white stuff on the ground.  Many places north and west of us are getting snow as I prepare to send this out.

We have enjoyed a truly wonderful fall and while there have been some signs that fall was ending, no one expected the abrupt end that brought an unusual hard freeze to us on November 19. 

In our eight years here, we have seen frosts earlier in November, but we have never had our temperature drop to 24F and stay that cold for so long in November.  Twenty-four degrees Fahrenheit is not a particularly common temperature here on the Crystal Coast.  Some years we see the temperature drop that low a few times but it usually rises quickly.  Other years we never even make it to a temperature that cold.  We are accustomed to gardening in December and harvesting lettuce from our garden in January. Our average low temperature in January is only 33F.
This year on November 19, we stayed close to 24F for several hours and the extended cold damaged plants that survived well into January last year.  While I protected our lettuce patch with a tarp and a light bulb, I did not think it was worth the electricity to try to keep our tomatoes alive.  
We had two very healthy tomato plants that went into the ground around August 19. They were full of green tomatoes.  We have harvested ripe tomatoes off the vine as late as December 19, but they have never been protected with anything more than a tarp.  I did put a tarp on this year’s tomatoes but the long period of cold air severely damaged them and we pulled them out.  We now have a couple of flat cardboard boxes with ripening tomatoes spread out in them.
Our fall gardening is not finished as we still have some nice lettuce, Swiss Chard, and rutabagas.  The extended cold weather also chilled the areas waters.  They dropped below 50F and it has taken them over a week to get back almost to 60F.  My last kayak fishing expedition this past weekend turned up not a nibble out on the oyster rocks of the river.
However, this is still a great time of year to be on the coast even as we transition to colder weather.  Starting with Thanksgiving day, we just have to make it through three sub-sixty days before we get back to the mid-sixties on Sunday, November 30, and Monday, December 1.  By Wednesday, December 3, we will back in the upper sixties.  Every day in the sixties in December is one less day of winter.
While we ride out our roller coaster weather, it is  still possible enjoy the water by taking advantage of nice days. Because of the close proximity of the water, it is easy to sneak in some water time.

There is also a chance that the trout and other fish which seemed to leave during the extreme cold will come back before winter truly takes up residence in the area.  Even if the fish are not biting,  there will be some nice kayak trips out on the river.  I will manage a few rides down the river in our skiff, and if I catch the right warm days,  there will be some walks on the beach.

There are visitors who have figured out our secret and come down to enjoy Thanksgiving here along the beach.  Of course our secret is that things start to quiet down as November slides into December.  It is not hard to find some quiet waters as the holidays approach. Things do not close up for the winter here in Carteret County, but the pace of life slows down a little as we approach the holidays.

There are a few things on the calendar. On Friday, November 28, at 6PM the Swansboro Flotilla takes place. Then Saturday, November 29, at 3:00 PM, the Emerald Isle Christmas Parade will begin. It is an old fashioned Christmas Parade with almost as many people in it as are watching it.  On December 13, from 5 to 7 PM, we get to enjoy the Crystal Coast Festival of Lights.

Beyond those events, we will just keep enjoying the wonderful beauty of our area and cross our fingers for some great December weather.

As we approach tomorrow, I am thankful my family is all safe in their homes, our otter is back in town, my boat is back on the lift, and that I have a fantastic job. May everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving. December will be here soon and I will have to get my order in for tomato seeds.

After we get through the December seasonal reversal it will not be long before I start dreaming about wading in saltwater once again.

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