For the majority of the country the weather has been an above the fold story these past few weeks. Here we have been spared the snowfalls and ice storms, but it has been bitterly cold with night after night of temperatures in the low 20's. These degrees are not unusual for us in the winter, but the earliness and persistence is. I know to many of you in more northerly or westerly areas this may come off as whining, and you may feel I should be grateful that at least I don't have to shovel my way out of the house on a single digit day. Believe me, grateful I am.
It has been cold enough here for the creeks and rivers to begin forming ice, and you know it is cold when salt water freezes. This is not an uncommon occurrence and happens every couple of years, but not so early in the season. It usually takes the water longer to cede its autumn warmth to the cold winter air. Knitting Mill Creek is on the western side of my neighborhood and the surface has frozen from one side to the other. The tides create interesting patterns in the ice, and lacy frozen remains are left on the shoreline when they recede.
This is perhaps one of Norfolk's most stressed waterways due to of its small size, infrequent flushings, lack of filtering wetlands combined with heavy usage. There are quite a few boats kept on the creek, most are (or once were) for pleasure, but there are still a couple of watermen who keep their crabbing boats here. Pollution is a very real issue as well, but not so much from industrial sources or the boats. Most of it is due to fertilizer run-off, dog and goose feces, and whatever gets washed off of the roads when we have heavy rains. So I was surprised to see so many mussels seemingly thriving in such compromised water. Exposed at low tide and attached tightly to their perches, they were sealed shut against the cold.
The first picture in this series is my entry for Gardening Gone Wild's Picture This Photo Contest, January 2010. You can go there and see how other bloggers are picturing their winter, or post your own shot and show the world what it is like outside of your shell.