Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer in Full Swing

There is no doubt we are in the middle of summer. All along the east coast, you can find heat and people seeking ways to cool down.

I took this picture just east of the Point at Emerald Isle, NC. It is one of the places you can almost always find a breeze. In the winter time, there is more of breeze most days than I want.

While we are in the middle of summer here on the Southern Outer Banks, we are actually on the downhill slope for beach visitors. In three or four weeks, those visiting will drop sharply as school children and college students head back to school.

There will be a wave of folks without children and with children too young for school. Then we will see the fishermen for a couple of months, and by early November, the beaches are mostly empty except for hardcore fishermen.

This has been an exceptionally warm summer in a number of spots. I have grown much more tolerant of the heat since we moved to the US from Canada in 1987. When we were fresh out of college and living on the farm in Nova Scotia, it was neat to hardly ever see temperatures above 75 degrees. I did not even mind the cold winter temperatures of Atlantic Canada.

Now I much prefer the warmth of coastal Carolina and the eighty-degree waters off Emerald Isle to the Bay of Fundy which seemed to hover in the mid-forties for much of the summer. Summer is about heat, and I like to absorb as much of it as possible.

There have been a number of what I like to call Crystal Coast days. Those are days when you get to fully savor summer by doing everything you love like biking, swimming, boating and walking on the beach. To make those days even more special, we have seen some days this summer when the water is indescribably beautiful. There is nothing like visiting the beach and being mesmerized by the colors of the waves, water, and skies. Each season at the beach has its special palette of colors. The emerald waters of summer are the ones that sustain me through winter.

These days only when the temperatures climb past the mid-nineties do I feel some pain and wish that I was wading in ocean waters. Most of the time wading in ocean waters is a desire that I can fulfill with a short trip to the beach from our home along Raymond's Gut. This particularly hot weekend I am in the slowly simmering mountains of Southwest Virginia at least six hours from the coast.

By the time I get back to the beach sometime in the next week or so, you will just be able to see fall on the horizon. For the last couple of years being on the road has been part of my life in July. Getting back to the beach in August gives me just enough time to contemplate my approaching favorite season. Fall is a magnificent time to live at the beach. The waters are still warm, the humidity drops rapidly, and the fish are biting.

While I love a nearly perfect July day on the beach or even better on the water, time on the water in September is truly special. The holiday crowds are long gone, and we mostly have the waters to ourselves until some of the fish start running.

Most of us at the beach do not mind our summer crowds since our economy depends on them, and for the most part, if you can time your grocery store shopping trips, and stay away from the bridge during a couple of short periods on the weekend, you will hardly notice our visitors. Usually, even during the summer, our world of dazzling water is empty except on weekends.

While visitors might stand in line for meals on the island in the evenings, usually places on the mainland are much less crowded, and we natives can usually get almost immediate service at some of the lesser-known restaurants.

Having summer in full swing and some crowds at the beach actually give our area a very festive atmosphere for a couple of months. The ice cream shops are busy, the beaches have some people on them, and for the most part, everyone is having a good time.

Sometimes it seems like the peak of summer is a fleeting kiss that comes but once a year and too quickly dances away until next year. I will certainly miss summer, but we likely have some more heat waiting for us in August and even September.

By February, we will all be dreaming of summer once again, and hoping that we get another fleeting kiss that will warm our souls and bodies.