I think we reached that point during this last week of May 2012.
The puffy white clouds over Swansboro and the Intracoastal Waterway are a good sign that summer is on our doorstep.
We had a March that was warm enough for me to go wading in the ocean, but the warmth did not feel like summer. When summer comes, it wraps you in a blanket of heat which doesn't go away. Morning walks have to be done early, and mowing the yard is best done well before 9 AM.
We often wait a little longer for summer here on the coast than places just fifty miles inland. Summer cannot take up residence until the area's waters get warm. If the water temperature is 64F like it was on April 3 when I took this picture, you can be certain that things will cool off at night, and you will still get to sleep with your windows open.
However, when the water temperature in the gut behind our house reaches almost 81F like it did on May 24, then you can expect the heat pumps to run all night.
Most of us enjoy summer, or we wouldn't be living at the beach. Summer beach season officially starts with Memorial Day, and it is always good to have warm weather securely in place before that holiday weekend.
Memorial Day 2011 ended up being a good beginning to the season. I suspect that the warm weather we've enjoyed prior to the 2012 Memorial Day weekend will set us up for a similarly nice first summer holiday weekend. Certainly the stop and go traffic on the bridge to Emerald Isle late Friday evening, May 25, 2012, would lead one to believe this going to be a good summer for our vacation related businesses.
We didn't get to this pre-Memorial Day warmth easily. After our warm March, we had some cool days in April. April's cool weather even lasted into the first week of May with temperatures dropping into the fifties at night. It made for good spring fishing, but the swimming pool was a little chilly.
Still as May progresses toward its end, it is hard to deny summer if you live on the North Carolina coast. Summer is going to arrive, and you might as well be prepared to enjoy it. We're lucky that we are not on track to have a heat wave like much of the east coast this Memorial Day weekend.
Once again being surrounded by water will save us from the extreme heat. While the water might be 81F in the shallow channel from our house out to the White Oak River, once you get down to Swansboro and the Intracoastal Waterway, it still is just in the upper seventies. With the water below 80F, we can expect a moderating influence on the Memorial Day heat that will bake much of the east coast.
We are watching an early season tropical development, but it appears to be on an unusual southern course. We'll likely have to endure some rough surf, but so far that is all that the forecasters are guessing that will impact our area.
Even with good crowd this weekend here on the coast, the beginning of summer really doesn't change our lives very much. Most of the summer, we try to do our boating and kayaking during the week and leave the area's waters to visitors on the weekends. It doesn't get very busy up on the White Oak, but there will plenty of boaters zooming around on the Intracoastal. If I go out in the boat, I probably won't go much farther than the marshes just south of Swansboro.
The other change isn't very significant either. We just adjust our grocery shopping times to make sure we avoid the stores from Friday evening until Monday afternoon. Doing that lets us miss the crowds who pack the stores to fill up their vacation homes.
I managed to do our Memorial Day shopping between five and six PM on Friday, May 25. While the grocery store was busy, it wasn't nearly as crowded as Clyde Phillips' seafood. I only waited at the checkout for two or three minutes in the Lowe's Cape Carteret store. However, I wouldn't want to be in either Lowe's or the Island Food Lion on Saturday, May 26.
I am not going to complain about summer and a few extra people in the grocery stores. It is just part of living here on the Crystal Coast. There are other advantages that far outweigh summer crowds. I have spent the last two days enjoying our neighborhood swimming pool with my granddaughter. I went for a boat ride yesterday morning, and if the weather stays night, I might even get in a beach walk.
On top of all that, if looks like my first home grown tomato of the season will be ripe sometime the last week of May. Having a ripe tomato in May is just another reason to welcome the warmth and summer.