Saturday, December 06, 2008

Winter Sunsets

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Viewing a spectacular sunset is truly one of the great pleasures of life. This picture was taken in one of our favorite spots for sunset photos during early winter.

My wife and I might be called sunset seekers because we are usually lurking somewhere near the water when there is a chance for a great sunset.

We are usually not alone, people tend to congregate in the best spots to enjoy that last flash of warmth and light before the sun goes down. Maybe we are hard wired that way from hundreds of thousands of years living by the light of a campfire.

I cannot pin down why I want to watch the sun go down. It is one of the most spectacular light shows available. Here on the coast often the colors in the sky after the sunset are even better than the ones at sunset.

There is the idea that the sunset marks the point in the day when most of what I have to do is personal as opposed to business related. However, having reached the special status in life of semi-retired or un-retired, I doubt that is the case.

My guess is that it is nothing more complicated than the pure, often warm light, and beautiful colors that attract us. That with the day's activities winding down and the opportunity to catch our breath is all that we need to flock to those places where the sunset is the attraction.

There is a human need to enjoy and appreciate beauty. That natural beauty enriches our lives is a given.

Sunsets are the most cost effective way that I know to personally enjoy and share that beauty.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Seasonal peace on the beach

I only have to think back to last fall to remember the warm days in December when we saw surfers enjoying the beach.

This year is far different from our two previous falls on the shore. The cool weather has come earlier in the year, and it has been more persistent.

That means that walks along the beach are fewer and shorter. Walking on the beach as did last year the first week of December when it was seventy degrees Fahrenheit is much nicer than a stroll when the temperature has struggled to reach fifty.

Tomorrow we are actually supposed to sneak into the sixties. We might try a nice beach walk since we have only been enjoying the beach from a distance since the cooler weather took over.

My wife gives me a really hard time when I start complaining about cold weather. It has something to do with dragging her to Canada when we got married. We farmed for over a decade in a snow belt north of Fredericton, New Brunswick. Our first winter, we watched as we were buried with twenty-three feet of snow.

We came to really appreciate snowshoes. We also got very used to cold temperatures. I can remember unloading five hundred bales of straw at twenty-eight degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Every single hair on my head was covered with frost. My eye brows were even frosted.

Then there was January of 1982 when our youngest daughter was born in the middle of blizzard where the temperatures finally bottomed out at minus forty degrees.

Now I find myself complaining that the temperature dropped to 31.7 degrees Fahrenheit this morning here on the Crystal Coast.

While snow often brought a certain peace to the farm, here on the North Carolina coast cold weather and cooler waters have a similar impact.

Going for a ride in your boat or sitting on the river fishing is not nearly as much fun at fifty degrees as it is at seventy five degrees when shorts are still the uniform of the day.

Still I find that I eventually adjust to the cooler temperatures. I will soon be back out riding my bike on days when the temperature sneaks up into the sixties. I might even still take my kayak out if we can get a day or two in the seventies.

Last year I managed to take our skiff down the river on Christmas eve. I will probably continue running the boat some each week or so, just to keep the motor loosened up.

While the short days and cool temperatures limit outdoor activities somewhat, there are some nice sheltered trails in the area.

Eventually though the call of the beach will be too much, and I will find a warm day for a nice walk. Perhaps tomorrow will be one of those days.

In the meantime you can enjoy the quiet of the winter beach by watching this YouTube video, December Beach Day, that I posted earlier today. If you have the bandwidth, make certain you watch in high quality.

You can read more on the quiet of the beach at my post, The Almost Empty Beach, on Crystal Coast Living. The photo might look a little familiar