The First Real Taste of Winter

   I was taken by surprise last night as the lowest temperatures of the season moved into our area. An avid weather watcher, I am usually on top of such things, like the plummeting mercury, but this first round of biting cold snuck up on me. I knew it was cold outside, as I tended to some chores this past Sunday, running the trash to the dumps, setting up our Christmas tree, but it wasn't until later that evening when I let the dog out did I feel just how bitter it had become. I hastily pulled the last 'cold tolerant' tropical plants, a fan palm, a loquat, and a perennial passiflora, from the patio and into the mud room, hoping that would be protection enough. At this point, they were already frozen solid.

   I live in what is know as the Long Island Pine Barrens region, a unique environment noted for it's poor, thin sandy soil, which supports the dwarf pitch pine, several oak varieties and many other plants found only in this area.   It is the soil's inability to hold in heat that accounts for such extreme lows during the winter, often 10 to 20 degrees colder than the surrounding non-barrens areas. As the sun sets, the temps dive, especially when the winds are from the north.
Pine Barrens


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