OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) – I don't know about you, but I've about had enough of this cold, wet winter weather we've endured in South Mississippi this year.
Last year, it seems I could count on one hand the number of nights we dipped below freezing the entire winter. This year, I could fill both hands and then some.
My native Yankee blood has long ago thinned out. The fact is I've become a real winter wimp. Growing up in Illinois, I could endure 20 below zero wind chills, heavy snowfalls and icy roads. It was easy to accept, because that's all I knew.
Fast forward a few decades. Now I'm a 51-year-old who's spent half his life in Illinois and the more recent half in the deep South. (Mississippi and Jacksonville, Florida)
The warm-in-winter Southern half of my life has since taken over. I've become one of those people I used to make fun of; those who grab for a coat when the temperature dips below 60 or so.
That's why this winter has been so uncomfortable. Cold and wet, exactly what the Old Farmer's Almanac predicted, by the way.
My wife and I got tired of dragging all the plants into the garage. The last few freezes, only a select few made it to the front porch. The rest are on their own. We'll see which are truly cold hardy, if Spring ever arrives.
Despite the lingering cold this year, I did enjoy a welcome respite this week.
You may already know that I'm an avid kayaker. I bought my Wilderness Systems kayak several years ago and enjoy getting out on the area bayous, rivers and Mississippi Sound.
This past Monday, I had the opportunity to take my first kayak trip of the winter. It's just the break I needed to shake these winter blah and blues.
Monday was one of those rare days (at least this winter) when it really warmed up nicely. I think the high hit 70 degrees. It was a perfect day for a kayak trip to Deer Island, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to paddle. Not only was the weather near perfect, the water was also. The Sound was "slick" with barely a notion of wave action.
Putting in at East Beach in Ocean Springs, not far from my house, it's about a 35 to 40 minute paddle to Deer Island. The trip itself was enjoyable, relaxing and a long time coming this winter.
For the first time, I took my new digital camera to Deer Island. I wrapped it in a plastic bag, then placed that bag inside a "dry bag" for safe keeping. No need to worry; with barely any waves, there was very little "splash" making it inside the boat.
Deer Island itself was a near shore paradise. I was the only person on the far east side of the island. It was just me and Mother Nature. Gnats, I'm afraid, were in abundance. But I kept them at bay by lathering my bare legs with Skin So Soft. That's long been touted as an effective anti-gnat remedy. It works pretty well, but the smell is intense.
Deer Island is a beautiful mix of sand, pine trees, bayou, and meandering waterways that cut through the east end of the island. I got some great photographs and really hated to leave.
That winter getaway to the island was just what I needed. I'd been wanting to dust off the kayak and longing for the warmer days of Spring.
It turns out, Monday was just a cruel tease of the impending Spring. I was soon scraping ice off my X-Terra once again.
Still, I'm thankful for the break. And thankful for the outdoor opportunities that are so prevalent in South Mississippi.
I'll be back soon Deer Island. See if you can get those pesky gnats to relocate.
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