Is it cold enough?


Two weeks ago I was wearing shorts, walking the beach, and sitting in the sun. Retirement at its best.
Then it began to rain.And it rained. And it rained.
Folks on the coast blame folks up north, all the way to Canada. Canadians and James Spann. Spann predicted it, therefore he made it happen. That’s what you call irrefutable logic.
So much water was standing in the road that I wrote our county commissioner and threatened to ask Washington to have Highway 30-A declared a wild and scenic river. The commissioner was not amused.
Not everyone down here was upset by the weather.
As the wind and rain swirled around us, in from the Gulf came deep sea swells that pushed the surf higher. The red flags went up and the surfers went out.
Though the coast is well known for harboring people who pay little or no attention to rules that govern civilized society, people who venture into the water when the water is that angry are prime candidates for a Darwin Award, which is given (usually posthumously) to individuals who contribute to human evolution by self-selecting themselves out of the gene pool.
I don’t think “intelligent design” is a factor here.
But on the other hand, surf worth riding is rare in our Gulf, so it is hardly surprising to see people, wet-suit clad, sitting astride their boards, waiting for that perfect wave which, when it comes, gives them a ride that is short and in most cases ends badly.
A metaphor for life?
Or just something a retiree who wishes he could be out there with them uses to rationalize why he isn’t.
The bad weather brought out something I had never seen before – winter skim boarders.
You see a lot of vacationers on skim boards in the summer, trying to get a short ride on a stretch of wet sand, and busting their butts in the process.
The winter beach is better.  Storms flatten the shoreline, leaving a broad expanse on which waves break and meander inland.  On this wide, flat surface a person with coordination and a board can glide freely and far.
But winter is also cold, so winter skimmers, like winter surfers, are hard core.
Long-haired and wet-suited, young faces already creased from salt and sun, skimmers stand at the edge of the water, immobile and intense, watching for the perfect wave. Their boards are bigger. Skillfully shaped. Rubber grips for the feet. None of those trendy illustrations painted on ‘em like the ones from touristy “surf shops.”
A wave rises, breaks, rushes to shore, and then, before the water retreats, the skimmer breaks into a run, throws the board ahead of him, catches up to it, jumps on it, and skims as far as his momentum will take him.
Sometime they get into the shallows, catch a wave before it breaks, and ride it to shore just like deep water surfers do.
The technique is both simple and complicated — another metaphor for life?  Nah.
The ride is short and those who slip find that the sand is hard.
(It can be dangerous. We saw a kid break his arm in a skim board fall.  Be warned.)
But the surfers and skimmers had only a day or so to enjoy it.
The cold front that brought the rain and waves pushed on through, calmed the water and sent surfers and skimmers home. So here I sit. Inside.
Outside it is 25 degrees and dropping.
Meanwhile, in Anniston it is 11 degrees and feels like 3. So I guess I can’t complain. Warned that the cold was coming, folks along the coast do what needs to be done — wrap pipes, cover faucets, check anti-freeze, make sure outside animals are warm.
We do not have to worry about our pets.
They live inside, unless they choose otherwise.
Following our son’s brilliant suggestion, we installed a “doggie door” so they could go out into the fenced yard whenever they want – and they do.
Not only is it convenient, it is a hoot to watch the reaction of someone who walks by with a little yippie dog on a leash, and three barking Labs explode into the yard to greet them.
Yet, though they are Labs, and Labs are cold weather dogs, ours go out less when the temperature drops. So do I.
So to answer my own question, yes, it is cold enough for me. And for everyone else I know. Man and beast. So bundle up if you go out. Winter ain’t over yet.
Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University.. He can be reached at


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