Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

The First Signs Of Spring On The Eastern Shore, At Last !

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Watching the news this sunny Sunday morning was like experiencing a total disconnect between life on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and what’s going on just to the north of us. I cannot imagine what it must be like in Boston for example, where a close friend’s sister has lived for eons– she reports that electricity is out  for hundreds of thousands of folks and the temps are in  the low 20’s.  And then there’s that  30+ inches of  chilly white stuff on the ground with  5 foot drifts  piled up against her garage doors. Brrrrr ! And more Brrrr !  Meanwhile, I’m busy turning up the furnace, complaining that it’s only 38 degrees outside. But given that temps for later in the day are expected to be near 50, maybe, just possibly,  I should complain  a little less.

In fact, maybe I should remember to be a little more grateful for our terrific moderate climate here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. After all, we’re not Florida– warm in winter, scorching in summer. We’re not Carolina or Georgia–  warmish in winter, muggy, miserable and hot in summer. No, the Shore really has a wonderful climate, moderated by the waters  of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean which surround our slender peninsula,  keeping the Eastern Shore cooler in summer and warmer in winter.  We enjoy 4 distinct seasons, especially our long, pleasant springs and falls. The cold part of  our winter is blissfully short, mostly January, and compared to much of the country, very, very mild.  ( Ohio, I’m thinking of you, remembering helping shovel the driveway as a teenager after many a snow !  )  Or Pennsylvania, Michigan, upstate New York, New England– I could go on and on. Summers on the Eastern Shore are, with the exception of August, delightful. Not too hot, not too cold, or as Goldilocks would describe it, just right.  August is hot, but hey,  isn’t that  why they invented central AC ?

So, as I looked about outside this morning, I was delighted to see the first signs of Spring peeping shyly around the corner, checking to make sure it’s safe to cross the street, so to speak. The forsythia is just beginning to show its sunny face, little wrinkles of golden yellow showing through. Scattered through the trees, the daffodils are bravely pushing up, about 4 inches of bright green stems above the ground, bright yellow smiling faces to soon follow. The buds on our showy backyard triplets,  3 gorgeous Bradford pear trees overlooking the water,  are fat and healthy,  just about ready to unfold slowly into huge showers of amazing pink blossoms, great hiding places for the myriads of songbirds that will be flitting through our yard during Spring Migration. The winter blooming camellias that, together with a colorful  line of  crepe myrtles, border  our  long, winding driveway have just recently dropped their very last deep pink blossoms but their spring- blooming cousins nearer the house are almost ready to amaze us with huge, waxy flowers of delicate pinks, sweet as baby’s breath. In fact, that’s how I know when it’s truly time to celebrate the coming of spring here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore– in February, when the camilla’s start to flower, I know that Old Man Winter has had it.  And that Spring,  glorious Spring,  is nearly here.   So it’s almost time !   Can’t wait !   ( Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA )

Too Blooming Early- The 2012 National Cherry Blossom Festival In Washington D.C.

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Cherry Blossom Pink

As it happily turned out,  instead of being at home on the Eastern Shore of Virginia  at 4 pm on March 17th, thinking about  getting ready for an excellent St. Paddy Day dinner at Kelly’s Gingernut Pub  in Cape Charles,  I was instead walking through  the magnificent grounds of the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.,  surrounded by  incredible beautiful blooming cherry trees.   A  postponement of a visit by a client left me with a few unscheduled days available and it took us all of  30 seconds to decide what to do with them.  Ever since our youthful days lived  in the Washington metro area,  about a thousand years ago,  my husband and I have always loved Spring there and the amazing cherry blossoms.   Earlier in the week I had  read  an article in  The Washington Post  which indicated that the record breaking warm weather this year  ( hello climate change)  was forcing the blossoms to open  very early,  almost 2 weeks earlier than usual.   Peak bloom, where  at least 70% of  the blossoms would be open, was forecast for March 20 – 24th.   So on Friday afternoon it was a quick call for a hotel reservation,  a dust-off of some sturdy walking shoes, a quick pack-pack and we were ready to set off early on Saturday morning.  Somehow, as often happens,  but I’m never sure how,  although dog feeding, watering and walking has something to do with it,  the planned  early  departure turned into a late 10:30 departure.   But finally we were on the road,  off  to the 2012 National Cherry Blossom Festival !    It was a gorgeous day,  a perfect day for a drive, the  ride  over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge offered sparkling blue waters and views of boaters out enjoying the warm and breezy day.   Fortunately, D.C.   is only a 4 1/2 hour drive from the Eastern Shore of Virginia, made somewhat longer but definitely more fun with a  lunch stop  at the famous Cheese Shop at Merchant’s Square in Williamsburg, VA  for a  luscious sandwich of  Virginia country ham and cheddar, piled high on a French baguette, slathered with their marvelous  house dressing,  accompanied by a glass of Williamsburg Winery’s  Chardonnay.

The Jefferson Monument- Never More Beautiful Than At Cherry Blossom Time

A word about the history of these beautiful cherry trees planted so profusely around the Tidal Basin and the National Mall.  According to Ann McClellan in her excellent book about the Festival,   ” The Cherry Blossom Festival Sakura Celebration“,  in 1909,  First Lady Nellie Taft, who had visited Japan and seen the cherry trees blossom there,  became interested in the new parks beautification  plan underway in  D.C.   Mrs. Taft  made known to the Superintendent of Public  Buildings her interest in seeing Japanese flowering cherry trees planted along the roads from the Tidal Basin to the  Park boundaries to create  continuous lines of  gorgeous spring color.  As her interest in the trees became known publicly, as a gesture of  friendship in 1909,  the city of  Tokyo, the capital of Japan, offered to send a gift of 2000 cherry trees to her sister city, the capital of the United States, Washington DC.  However, a friend of Mrs. Taft  assigned to travel to Japan to help select the trees  ignored the advice of  Fairchild  Nursery ( the nursery was to oversee the transportation of the trees to D.C.  from the port in Seattle where they were to  arrive) to select very young, small trees. Instead, hoping to get impressive blossoms very quickly, she instead selected mature trees whose roots and limbs had to be severely pruned.  This error made  it unlikely that the trees would survive once planted.  On top of all  that, once the trees had arrived in Washington D.C.,  the U.S. Dept.  of  Agriculture discovered that many of these  mature trees had infections and infestations and it was decided unfortunately necessary to burn them all, creating a diplomatic flurry of apologies and letters.

Peeking Through The Cherry Trees At The Washington Monument

But the city of Tokyo still very much wanted to fulfill its promise to gift these trees and  the Imperial Horticultural Experiment Station was selected to create a committee of experts to oversee  the propagation of 3000 young cherry trees.  By early 1912 these  trees were ready for shipment to Washington, arriving in March.  At a special ceremony at the  Tidal Basin in March 1912,  the Mrs. Taft  is said to have  planted the very first tree herself.   The rest. as they say, is history.   Word of the beauty of the blossoming trees quickly became known, bringing artists, photographers and thousands of  ordinary citizens to Washington to photograph, paint and generally celebrate the beautiful blooms, with the first  official  “Cherry Blossom Festival”  celebration taking place in 1935.  The 2012 Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the 100th anniversary of the planting of the trees in March, 1912  and in the horticultural world  this is an especially exciting year,  the Cherry Blossom Centennial.

A Microcosm Of The World’s People Celebrating The Beautiful World Of Cherry Blossoms

As we gaily drove  over the Memorial Bridge,  it was clear that the early bloom  prognosticators were  right,  the trees were absolutely glorious,  blossoms waving in the  breeze, petals  floating gently to the ground like pink-tinted pixie dust, their sweet scent  perfuming the air.   People were everywhere,  enjoying this once yearly treat, hand-in-hand, parents, youngsters, oldsters, tweensters, toddlers, lovers, photographers,  walking,  jogging, snapping photos with cameras, iPhones, Droids,  you name it,  sitting on the grass,  laying on blankets,  under the shade of these magnificant trees or in the golden sunlight between them. Spring was in the air, temps were in the mid-70’s  and everyone was there to celebrate this truly glorious Spring  day,  tourists and residents, citizens and  foreign visitors,  folks with roots from all across the globe,  chattering happily in a multitude of languages.    English, Spanish, French, Japanese, Russian, German, Italian, you name it,   enthusiastic conversations wafted through the air,  everyone  basking in a beautiful dream world of  millions of gorgeous pink blossoms,  a world first envisioned by Nellie Taft  over one hundred years ago,  a vision of  a cultural coming together that  I imagine the Coca Cola folks could have had in mind in their “Real Thing”  ad  from the early 1970’s.

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Carols, Candles And Sleigh Bells Marked The 2nd Annual “Grand Illumination” At Central Park In Cape Charles, VA

Friday, December 9th, 2011

It was a beautiful  Eastern Shore night for the Cape Charles 2nd Annual  “Grand Illumination”,  moon nearly full,  skies clear, stars shining down brightly on the event, temperatures in the mid-40’s,  cool-ish but  not cold.  ( Unlike last year at the 1st Annual  “Grand Illumination”  where  the wind was a little  brisk– I was  sorry I hadn’t brought a pair of gloves and worn a warmer blazer, finding myself doing  jazzercise steps to keep warm —  jingle bells, stomp-stomp-stomp,  jingle bells, stomp,stomp,stomp– you get the picture.)   Running a bit late, I  threaded  through the gathered crowd of  happy youngsters, oldsters,  teenies and toddlers,  to find Daughter #3,  daughter- in- law  # 1 and four grandkids who fortunately had already located good viewing spots near the front of  The  Gazebo at Cape Charles’  beautiful Central Park.  Caroling was just beginning,  kicked off by the  Master of Ceremonies,  Chris Bannon of Seagate B&B,  dressed in a bright red Santa hat and wrapped in a big holiday smile.

Dedicated  in September, 2010, the Cape Charles Central Park,  with its wide green, gracefully curving sidewalks, lovely fountain,  dozens of  Memorial Trees, elaborate children’s playground and The Gazebo,  is the glorious result of years of collective effort by the many, many volunteers of  ” Citizens For Central Park”  and  nearly a million dollars in  donations and grants.  It’s now the pride of  the little coastal town of  Cape Charles,  the site of  public events large and small,  a place for  individuals and families to enjoy a walk,  a jog,  a frisbee contest on a summer’s eve.  And now,  for the holidays,  it’s a magical place of trees and old-fashioned Victorian style lamp posts strung with thousands of  twinkling lights, colors galore and blazing white, a feast for  the eyes,  a sight for every passerby to enjoy as they light up the night.

Meanwhile,  back at  The Gazebo, folks were still arriving,  strolling down the Park’s  curving paths,  now lined with luminaries glowing brightly in the  darkness,  twinkling like little stars  fallen to earth,  everyone receiving  a candle .  Up on stage,  Santa and Mrs. Claus  ( a big shout-out  to Larry and Trina Veber, long time  Cape Charles residents,  for all the time they donate to make so many great local events even better),  gathered with the Mayor, the choir, some members of Cape Charles Town Council, Cape Charles Chief of Police, Commander of the Cape Charles Coast Guard Station as Chris Bannon gave a memorial tribute to Melvin Dudley, without whose tireless efforts  Central Park would not be what it is today.   In fact,  a beautiful red cedar has been been planted in a place of  honor near the playground as a Memorial Tree for Melvin Dudley and has been  designated as the now and future Official Christmas Tree  of Cape Charles.  Its plaque  reads: ” In honor of his dedication to Cape Charles, his gifts of wisdom,  his grand sense of humor,  his love of family and appreciation of the beauty of this environment.”  Then, a  flip of the switch and the Melvin R.  Dudley Memorial Tree  burst into brightly glowing colors, the first  tree to be illuminated.  As  dignitaries came down from the stage to  light the candles of those gathered below, golden flickers spread  until hundreds of candles glowed in the darkness, spreading light and good cheer as  carols continued to be sung and smiles contined to grow.   ‘Tis  after all,  The Season.  Then the big moment- Mayor Dora Sullivan asked everyone to blow out their candles  and turn towards the Park Green.  As they turned,  the entire Park leapt into color, everywhere trees and lampposts  glowed and twinkled  as thousands of points of  shining lights  enveloped Central Park in a brilliant blanket  of  sparkling luminous energy, evoking a wave of applause from the crowd as the 2nd Annual  “Grand Illumination”  was concluded.

Time then for visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus who had flown in straight from the North Pole just for this event !   Kids large and small lined up for a shy chat with Santa and a big hug from Mrs. Claus. It was really sweet and so authentic,  The Gazebo wreathed in brilliant blue lights, Santa and Mrs. Claus in bright red,  kids waiting patiently in line for a chance to whisper into Santa’s ear their deepest holiday wishes,  phone cameras clicking as parents snapped pictures,  reindeer nickering  just a few feet away,  their bells jingling gaily.  Well, not exactly reindeer,  actually more like horses…. but they definitely were nickering  and their manes were entwined with ribbons and little bells which jingled gaily at every toss of their bedecked  heads.

 

Thanks to the folks from the Triple M Ranch,  a 150 acre horse farm with winding  riding trails located just outside Cape Charles,  6 beautiful and patient horses and their  riders had gathered  at the entrance to Central Park so that kids of all ages, including myself, would have  a chance to pat  and talk to them. ( Check out Triple M at  www.triplemranches.com )  My youngest grandson, who is a bit awed by horses,  just loved seeing them all dressed up in their red and green holiday finery.  He even ventured a gentle stroking  of the neck  of  a small filly. What an unexpected treat,  it brought a real old-fashioned holiday flair to this  great small town event,  hope to see these reindeer, I mean horses,  again next year at Cape Charles’  3rd Annual “Grand Illumination” !

 

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

“Singing In The Rain” Redux- Our Fabulous Weather On Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

I was just sitting at my desk  last Saturday morning, rain drumming on the office roof, working on a little overdue  project,  feeling just a teensy bit sorry for myself  because we cancelled our trip to Carter Mountain Orchard in Charlottesville, VA ( www.cartermountainorchard.com ) because heavy rain was forecast for most of the day and I don’t like to drive in a downpour.  But I started feeling cheerier when one of our agents got a call from a customer who will be closing shortly on a home they just  purchased here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia , saying they were absolutely getting  hammered by snow,  falling  like  crazy  outside their home  overlooking  the Hudson River near New York City.   Snow in October, I  thought.  Wow, what a bummer  !   October is for enjoying fall foliage, driving to apple orchards,  sipping sweet-tart apple cider out on your deck on a beautiful fall afternoon or visiting  wineries to taste the new releases.  October is definitely NOT supposed to be for slipping and sliding on icy roads,  shoveling sidewalks or salting  down the front steps.   Or,  worst of all,  having your power off for days on end as proclaimed on the front page of the New York Times that Sunday– ”  Storm Leaves More Than 2 Million Without Power”.

Which brings me full circle once more to “Singing In The  Rain”  here on the  Virginia Eastern Shore.  Like last year, and the year before, and the year before that,  and indeed most of my nearly 25 years here,  when areas just north of us are being lashed by sleet, snow and high winds,  here on the Eastern Shore,  we are enjoying rain.   “Enjoying”  in the sense that it’s great to have  woods, fields and ponds  getting a good drink and water tables  being refilled — even though we might cancel trips so as not to have to drive  in heavy rain.   So many benefits, so few drawbacks !   Our moderate maritime climate, our fabulous weather,  is one of the many delightful aspects of life on the Eastern Shore.  A beautiful four season climate with long, pleasant springs and falls, the hot part of summer short with cooling breezes blowing off  the water,  the cold part of winter short  and moderate ( most winter days seem to be between 40 to 50 degrees outside) — by the end of February or first part of March,  farmers normally starting  plowing for spring plantings.  For avid boaters, golfers and beachcombers, it’s terrific– you’ll see them out and about all winter long,  “doing their thing”,  enjoying  every outdoor minute of   a  refreshing  45 degree winter’s day.

So last Sunday, when we woke up here on the Shore to a beautiful Indian Summer day,  leaves beginning to turn, skies clear and blue, slight breeze, temperatures forecast to be about 65 degrees and sunny,  it was hard to imagine what it would be like to live  in parts of New Jersey with 15 inches of snow and no power,  or in New York with a state of emergency declared in 13 counties  or in parts of Massachusetts or Connecticut, buried under up to 27 inches of snow and electricity forecast to be off  for up to a week.  And I didn’t actually have to imagine it because the Weather Channel covered it all in full detail,  fallen trees, closed airports, stranded motorists, 9 dead, the whole sad story.   Then,  just as I was making  another  pot of coffee, I looked out the kitchen window to a beautiful fall sight,  called to my husband to bring my camera– out in our little woods, beyond the back lawn and overlooking the water,  was a small family of  deer,  just passing through,  about 6 of them,  stopping every few minutes to look around and sniff the air.  Deer in  shades of  tans and browns,  trees dressed in greens and hues of  reds and orange, all set against the deep blue background of  our  Chesapeake Bay inlet– that’s what October on the Eastern Shore of Virginia looks like to us.   New York  may have  “The Big Apple”,  Massachusetts may have Boston and New Jersey may have Atlantic City…. but the Eastern Shore of Virginia has fabulous weather, our glorious, beautiful,  do-your-outside-thing- most- anytime,  moderate maritime climate.  So,  once again,  it’s  “Singing In The Rain”,  not shuffling

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

in the snow,  here on the Virginia Eastern Shore.