Winter does eventually come to North Carolina's Crystal Coast. Most of the time it is not like winter that you find even in the interior of the state much less the mountains. For the first three weeks of December 2012, we have been enjoying the last warmth of fall. It has been really nice.
A couple of years ago we were treated to an unusally cold winter. In fact it was the coldest winter in one hundred years. We ended up with snow on our dock the day after Christmas. Then as 2011 was sliding into 2012, the weather complete reversed and we enjoyed shorts weather in December.
This year has been another good year to live by the water here on the coast. Until these last few days before Christmas, I have been paddling my kayak around the White Oak River. The weather has been very cooperative. I haven't found the fish like I did earlier in the fall, but it has been spectacular on the river.
This most recent cold front which dropped through the area on December 21, 2012, brought a big change to our weather. The day after the front, we struggled to get to fifty degrees Fahrenheit. On top of that it was very windy until late in the day. Unless you could find some shelter from the wind, it did feel like winter or at least what we call winter.
While this cold weather won't stay with us, it will likely convince me to stay in our inlet instead of venturing out into the broad expanse of the river. The morning of December 22, there was even a skim of ice on the gut behind our house. We are actually scheduled to drop below freezing early the morning of December 23. The herons and egrets will not be happy with the inevitable skim of ice.
Fortunately this taste of winter will be short-lived. We will be back in the sixties by Christmas eve. Towards the end of the week we will have another taste of cold weather, but this is winter. We can expect some cold temperatures at times. As long as we don't have another winter like the old-fashioned one in 2011, we will be fine.
The holiday season is great time to be at the beach. While most areas seem to get frantic during the holidays, here at the beach things become very peaceful. We were over on Emerald Isle this weekend before Christmas and it is clear that the crowds of summer are long gone.
A few of the restaurants have closed for the season and some others are taking an extended holiday the week of Christmas. Fortunately there are still some places for folks to get a meal. Of course the Food Lion grocery store has lots of food and there is no shortage of parking places like there is during busy weekends in July.
I'm looking forward to the nice weather on Christmas eve. I am hoping that the winds cooperate and I can go for a nice long beach walk. We visited Third Street Beach today, but the winds didn't exactly feel inviting as I walked down to the water. It has been a while since I have been to the Point and a Christmas Eve hike there would be just right.
With even the fishermen gone by this time of year, there is no lack of room on the beach. No one will be crowding you. As far as I could see, the beach was completely empty this past Saturday afternoon. So if you love solitude, this is the spot and the time. We are about as far from Times Square as you can get and enjoy real peace on the beach.
Those of us who live here look forward to the peace and quiet during the holidays along North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks. It is a good time to visit with friends and think about the real meaning of the season.
If you do make it down our way, you will find plenty of Christmas Eve services at our area churches. Everyone is always welcome at our church, Cape Carteret Presbyterian. Our Christmas Eve Service is at 6:00 PM.