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Changing the Seasons - When December is the new fall

We live in a very dynamic ecosystem – every time you turn around a new flower is blooming, colors are different, and I won’t even start with the weather patterns.  Part of the purpose of this site is to log the changing of the seasons and of travels – this year I plan to perfect the art of chasing summer

“Christmas week 2015 saw many days hovering around 80 degrees, producing a thick fog that gave us a different sort of white Christmas.”

Folly Beach Pier

The weather in Charleston usually starts to truly chill down in November, and by Thanksgiving surfers are in full wetsuits and heavy coats are out of the closet.  Not so this year.  Instead of temperatures in the 50’s with an interspersed 70 deg day we’ve had 70’s with the odd few days with freezing temperatures at night.  Christmas week 2015 saw many days hovering around 80 degrees, producing a thick fog that gave us a different sort of white Christmas.

The coming of Spring

As a naturalist and boat captain I spend most of my time outdoors and frequent the same rivers and islands throughout the year.  After a few years, trends become apparent and drastic changes in these trends can cause one to double take and leave you scratching your head.

Yellow jessamine, the SC state flower, is known to gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts to be a first sign of the arrival of spring.  The abundent vine decorates tree canopies with a delicate, trumpet shaped yellow flower similar in appearance to the honeysuckle. (While beautiful, yellow jessamine is poisonous and should not be eaten!)  As someone who thrives in heat I am excited each spring when I find the first flower fallen on a path.  Imagine my surprise when a friend produced a perfect yellow blossom in early December!

Over the next few days I began watching the plants and animals around Charleston.  Some ducks bobbed in the salt marsh behind Folly Beach, but not many; migrating songbirds flitted around bird-feeders when they should have been much further south; azaleas, another lowcountry springtime visual treat, bloomed everywhere I looked; and (most alarmingly to me) fresh bright green spartina began to emerge from the pluff mud.

New Spartina pushing up through the grass

Don’t get me wrong, I love slapping on fins and playing in the ocean with a brightly shining sun while wearing a thin spring wetsuit in December, but these seemingly small changes in a long-set trend have me concerned. And curious. I will likely go into some possible “consequences” of what these may mean later, but right now I’m sitting on a beach in Florida because it got “cold” in Charleston and we left to chase summer.


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