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?


10 thoughts on “Brass Monkey Cold!

  1. Skip

    Good luck tomorrow. I hope you manage to get up and brave the cold. I’ve been meaning to get up to Acadia since last fall but just haven’t been able to find the time, so I’ve been visiting vicariously through your outstanding photos. Thanks! Skip

    • David Patterson

      Thanks… it feels like a while since I had the camera out for anything other than taking a few snaps, so tomorrow morning should be fun.

  2. I am a product of Upper Michigan and Northern Wisconsin and enjoying my time here in North Florida. I’ve been hearing that this year’s winter is a mild one so far and I can say the same for us here in the South. While our winters are nowhere near those in the Northeast, we have missed out on the regular cycle of our seasons.

    Also, happy to hear that you have an aversion to cold weather. There is hope yet that I, also a cold-weather hater, may one day be able to toughen up and get out there. If you can do it, why can’t I? …Someday.

    • David Patterson

      I do enjoy the different seasons we get here in the northeast, but where I am in northern New England the winter lasts just a bit too long for me. That’s why I was almost giddy about the late start we got to winter this year… every day it stayed mild got me one day loser to spring (as long as spring came when it was supposed to!).

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