The spring of 2012 is my sixth spring on the Crystal Coast. They have all proved to be different.
I enjoy spring unfolding along the coast. It is a lot more subtle than spring coming to the mountains.
While each spring has been different, there are things we can count on in our roller-coaster of spring weather.
Wind, blue skies, and moderate temperatures are no strangers to us this time of year. They are actually our companions most days.
Mostly we enjoy weather where the temperatures stay above fifty degrees Fahrenheit at night and below eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit during the day.
Daytime highs are usually comfortably in the mid-seventies. At night we have very nice sleeping weather with lows from the mid-fifties to mid-sixties. Sometimes we get out of that comfort range, but it does not often heat up early like it did this year.
March of this year was really a warm one. The unusually nice weather let us do some activities that are usually reserved for later in the year. I was wading around in saltwater up to my knees. I even took a dip in our neighborhood pool on a really warm late March day.
As April has rolled around, our temperatures have become more seasonable perhaps even a little cooler than normal. The few weeks of early summer that we enjoyed in March seem far away now, but it all a matter of perspective.
Late in the third week of April 2012, I spent a couple of immensely pleasurable hours out on the White Oak River in my kayak. Sitting in less than a foot of water astride a huge oyster rock in the middle of a coastal river nearly two miles wide is not something you do when the weather is ugly.
Grabbing the good weather when it is around is one of the enduring traits of living along North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks. However, I would argue that our good spring weather would pass for exceptional spring weather in most other parts of the country.
For much of March and April, our heat pumps have been silent. It is not unusual for us to sleep with our windows open now that the pine pollen is gone. At the end of April 2012, and our windows have been open more often than not for the last few weeks.
They might not be open all day, but it would be an unusual day when they were not open for at least part of the day. Living with fresh, clean air in your home is one of the benefits of living here.
We enjoy it now because we know that each year will bring us a few weeks in the summer when our home's air conditioning heat pumps create a refuge from the worst of summer's heat and humidity.
The nice spring weather brings with it other benefits. Each year sometime in the first couple of weeks of April, we get treated to fresh local strawberries. They herald the beginning of the local produce season. Greens, asparagus, lettuce and other vegetables are usually ready at the same time.
This spring we have been enjoying lettuce for months from some heads that overwintered in a warm, sheltered spot near our home.
One of the really nice things about spring on the coast is that it comes on you gradually. In the western part of North Carolina and southwestern Virginia, spring sometimes explodes on the scene. All of the sudden the grass needs mowing twice a week sometimes even when it snows.
Here on the coast don't get swamped by spring mowing. You get a chance to ease into the mowing season. Our warm season centipede grass doesn't grow a lot in the spring.
It was unusual that I had to mow our coastal lawn the first time in March this year. Most years, the first mowing is usually not until April. Even with this warm year, I have still only mowed twice this spring, and it is almost the end of April. I will probably get a third mowing in before April ends, but it could easily stretch it to May.
We also don't get the intense explosion of spring color that you see inland in North Carolina and Virginia. With more pines than hardwoods, our change is more gradual. We do get a taste of color with azaleas and other flowers, but it is not like a mountain spring.
What we sometimes miss in flowers, I think we make up in other ways. The water and sky go from their the intense winter shades of blue to the more subtle and muted spring colors. In spring we often get that first taste of the beautiful emerald color that the area waters use to bedazzle us in the summer.
Warming weather also brings out many of our beautiful birds. These photos of my feathered friends are from a couple of walks that I took recently in our subdivision. Beauty is usally just a short, warm hike away in the spring.
My photos from the Point at Emerald Isle were snapped recently on beach hike that will keep me inspired for a long time. From experience I know that my next walk there will produce photos just different enough to keep me going back over and over.
With spring moving towards summer, we gradually start to see more visitors. After a very quiet winter, visitors bring a sense of renewal and new life here on the coast. Our crowds are never huge, and those who visit are here only for a few short weeks.
Other than changing when we shop for groceries or go out for meals, visitors have little impact on the average Crystal Coast resident. They are a welcome part of life here.
Usually visitors start coming just about the time the fish start biting. We had company the first week in April. With good weather and quiet winds, we took advantage of the opportunity to fish. My fish-loving guest had a great time and was able to take four nice bluefish home in a cooler.
If you could sum up spring life on the Crystal Coast, it would be more of an unfolding of life instead of an explosion. We don't go from spring to summer in a couple of days like some places. We have cool days mixed with warm days. As the season progresses, there are fewer cool days and more warm ones. Being so close to so much water moderates our temperature much of the year.
We go from short walks on the beach early in the year to long hikes as the water gets more inviting. Boat rides go from short ones on the river to ones that stretch out beyond the beaches. The few businesses that close for a couple of months in the winter are usually all open by Easter.
In a good year our spring will stretch from March through June. Then one day, we will realize that summer has sneaked up on us, and we will venturing on the beaches later in the day, and our boat rides will often be early in the morning before the heat of the day comes. Mowing our yards will be come a game of strategy.
With warmth comes more time on the beach and even a chance to visit the islands in the Inlet. Spring is missed, and summer begs to be enjoyed just as thoughts of wonderful warm, humidity-free fall days start to tempt us into wishing that summer's heat would disappear.
Enjoying the unfolding of spring and the other seasons is a full time job here on the North Carolina coast. It is one that I treasure.