Brass Monkey Cold!


Growing up in Ireland I recall a phrase used to describe when the weather got really cold… something about how a certain piece of an ornamental brass monkey’s anatomy might be impacted negatively by icy temperatures. Usually by mid-January we would have experienced some of those bone-chilling, brass-monkey cold temperatures, but winter this year has been relatively mild… until this morning that is. Below zero temperatures have finally arrived in these parts though, and as someone who appreciates, but doesn’t particularly enjoy, the deep-freeze of Maine winter, the beginning of the countdown toward springtime and warmer temperatures now begins in earnest. And yes… for my friends across the pond who enjoy the warming benefit of the North Atlantic Drift, that is -20 degrees C.

Let me make one thing clear… I have no problem with winter and all the beauty it brings… it is the cold I can’t deal with. Considering my aversion to cold temperatures, there are a couple of dates that hold particular significance for me. The winter solstice is a big day… even though it occurs relatively early in the season, the switch back to lengthening days doesn’t go unnoticed around here. I also have a birthday coming up, and though the novelty of merely celebrating another year has long worn off, since moving to Maine my special day has assumed much more significance as it’s the day when average temperatures reach their coldest and once again begin to rise.

Every year I resolve to take advantage of winter conditions to photograph my favorite national park with a fresh perspective, and every year I usually let those well-intentioned plans fall by the wayside, especially when I wake early and take a peek at the outside thermometer reading of -20 degrees C. Feeling brave and despite the cold, for the past few weeks I have been trying to talk myself into an early morning photography adventure to Acadia, and maybe tomorrow’s 5 F (-15 C) MLK holiday forecasted temperatures won’t be so bad? I am still trying to talk myself into it… OK, I’m going to seriously bundle up and head down to Acadia to witness the 7:09 am sunrise tomorrow… I am. In the meantime – and just in case I decide to forego the brass-monkey cold – here’s a photograph of Bass Harbor Light from a couple of years ago with more than just a dusting of snow. It might be hard to pick out in this small web version, but that’s a lobsterman zipping by offshore… can you imagine how cold it must be out on the water at this time of year?