My computer readout said the wind was 2 mph. When I went to my car in the driveway it was calm. And dry – which fit the image on the weather radar which showed all the rain passing to the north of us. Ten minutes later I was at Gooseberry, the flag on a nearby pole was out straight, and the bay looked as angry as I’ve ever seen it, though on the ocean side there were just gentle rollers, courtesy of Hurricane Katia a long way off and heading out to sea. Once again, I learned that conditions a few miles inland can be a lot different from those at the coast!
So I put my camera in a plastic bag, but kept it ready. On the causeway I saw an opportunity for a shot and turned my back to the wind and salty mist and spray. Wrong! Even though my Tilley hat was held down by a string around my chin, the wind got behind it and flipped it off my head and over the edge of the causeway and towards the water. Fortunately it was just mid tide. (Hey – did you notice that neat little new tide link in the upper right of this page?! Right above the weather link that just gave me the bum steer? 😉
So the hat didn’t make it all the way to the water. It was inches away, nuzzled between some rocks and as I got half way down I began thinking about how stupid it was for an out-of-shape , 70-year-old to be doing this because the tops of the rocks at the lower level were dark green. I had visions of cracking my head and being there ’til the tide comes in because Gooseberry wasn’t going to attract any other visitors today. The water was no problem – just wet, but at this point shallow. The rocks were wet and very hard. So I did an undignified slither over the slimy surfaces – very slowly – getting wet and mucked up in the process, but leaving myself little distance to fall. As the waves licked at it, I retrieved my hat and carefully retraced my path, slithering all the way.
The little episode got me thinking about the wind and Eric Sloane’s Weather Book, an old favorite which arrived on Christmas Day 1954 – and although a bit worn and a lot outdated now, I still trust it. (Yes, it’s still in print!) And I remembered something in there about flags being good indicators of wind speed. So when I got home I checked. Here’s a picture of the relevant page – plus an insert of a picture of the flag at Gooseberry this day. You be the judge!
So what was it?
Your answers are important. I love this old seat-of-the-pants weather forecasting stuff, but doing this little exercise myself I started to lose confidence. If you can’t evaluate the flag, what chance do you have in evaluating a Wooly Bear? 😉
I’d like to tell you that Gooseberry in the raw was special – but it wasn’t. It was just raw and forlorn. For example, here is a small group of familiar shore birds on the east beach.
There was some advantage to going to the other shore. It put the island between you and the worst of the wind. But the little guys were still ruffled, as were some of the larger birds.
I hate to be just a fairweather friend, but like this ruddy turnstone, conditions had me scratching my head and wondering what the heck I was doing here.
But it was better than sitting in the house all day and when I walked back across the causeway i had at least learned to keep one hand on Tilley! 😉