Winter Comes To The Island

Lighthouse through the fog

Weather – the universal conversation starter. Whether you’re chatting with a neighbor down the block, or a total stranger on the other side of the globe, everyone talks about the weather.

St. Simons Island is far enough south to have mild winters, but that’s not to say that the Alberta Clippers that zip out of Canada don’t impact our weather. Recently the weather service issued two bulletins for our area – only minutes apart: a tornado warning and a freeze warning! Changeable; yeah that’s the word for our winters.

Raibow, Moon, Blue Sky

Coast Guard Staion Rainbow

When I shot this, the setting sun warmed my back, and a strong sea breeze misted my face. This beautiful, scythe-shaped rainbow hung over the beach and appeared to be a beacon from the old Coast Guard station. The rainbow, dark cloud, clear blue sky, and rising moon were the ultimate serendipitous shot. The local newspaper thought so as well because it was front page news the following day.

Grounded Gulls

Drizzled Christmas Tree

Being surrounded by water also impacts our weather. In summer, the sea breeze provides some welcome relief from the heat, but in winter, high humidity and cool temperatures frequently mean: “The fog comes on little cat feet.” In the village, the fog blotted out the sound, shrouded the lighthouse, grounded the gulls, and drizzled the Christmas tree.

Cat Hunting in Muhly Grass

And at the beach, this curious cat prowled the wet muhly grass for some furry, four-legged tidbits to supplement the proper breakfast it would later enjoy at one of the nearby mansions.

Palms and Poinsettias

But don’t get me wrong, winter is one of the best times to be on the island. We get nice weather payback for the hot, humid dues we pay in summer … and it’s not always foggy.

Happy Trails,
James & Terri




We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

61 thoughts

  1. I saw the weather for the Florida State vs. Georgia Tech game (for the ACC conference title) played in Charlotte, NC, was so foggy the field was hardly visible from the press box. I guess you must be close enough to that location to have been affected by the same weather front.

    Football is almost as common of a conversation starter as is the weather, although as you know, it is futbol throughout the rest of the world and the ball is round! 🙂 Happy winter holidays to you! – Mike

    1. Mike, I think that football as a conversation starter depends on which conference you live in. Also, we went to college at UK, and have family in Lexington, KY as well. As you probably know, that’s serious basketball territory. Before Terri and I visit we have to bone up on how the team’s been doing, because it WILL come up. Go Cats!! ~James

  2. You are so right, weather is the universal conversation starter. And, as someone said to me once, it’s a good thing we can’t control it – imagine the arguments. But sometimes I think when it comes to the extremes, wouldn’t it be nice to moderate it – just a bit.
    Your photos are lovely!

    1. Thanks Jill. There seems to be a direct correlation with weather and the number of conversations: the worse the weather, the more the conversations – even with strangers in the market. ~James

  3. Looks lovely. Even here in sunny Spain we are having a bit of a cold spell. Should have brought some warmer clothes. Have a great Christmas wherever you are!!

    1. Thanks Darlene. On one of our late season trips to Europe, it got too cold for us in the north, and southern Spain was our escape. It can be gloomy, but the sunny days are marvelous. Happy Holidays to you as well. ~James

  4. I used to think it was only the English who are obsessed by the weather. We talk about it all the time, which is odd when you consider that we have no seasonal extremes to cope with.

    1. Andrew, when we lived in the UK, the biggest adjustment for me wasn’t the weather, but the number of hours of daylight in winter. I’d travel from London to Aberdeen, and the difference was amazing. But as an US expat, I learned very quickly how to grouse about the weather. ~James

  5. Isn’t it wonderful when a rainbow makes the front page of the paper? Something beautiful instead of tragic. I just checked my thermometer and it is all of 13 degrees here – I’d rather have your fog!

    1. Thanks Tess. This rainbow was cool because as I moved around, the colors changed (there’s some physics going on here). And honestly, my photos didn’t really do it justice. ~James

    1. Sue, when we lived in Dallas these weather systems were called “Blue Northers” and the temperature drops there were even more severe. The old joke was: “The only thing between Dallas and Canada were two barbed-wire fences, and one of those is down.” BTW, you can keep those clippers north of the border for me. ~James

      1. We are having a very mild week with temperatures above freezing James, even here in Saskatchewan where I am visiting my Mom. Unheard of actually. When the cold weather returns I will give it a talking to and tell it to stay north. 🙂

  6. Wow. I did a double take when I saw your opening shot. I had no idea that St. Simons is your home base. Lucky you. We are here temporarily and, even with the cold weather, we love it. Was your rainbow photo taken on Monday evening? If so, I posted some photos taken from the Myrtle St. beach access and the village of the same rainbow. Interesting to see the different angles: Then again it might be a different rainbow! It was exquisite.

    1. Yep, I checked out the photos on your post, and it has to be the same rainbow. We’ve lived on SSI for 3 years, and this is the first rainbow like this that I’ve seen. With the blue sky and rising moon, it was outstanding. ~James

      1. I was particularly fortunate then–first night here and I stumble on this. I thought maybe St. Simons was awash in rainbows like Hawaii.

    1. Jo, the landscape crew at our condo always replaces the dead autumn flowers with poinsettias, and they’re quite striking. And the blue sky backdrop didn’t hurt either. ~James

  7. Great photos! Love the clear blue skies, and that rainbow is magnificent. Such pretty lighthouse decorations too. :)Great photos! Love the clear blue skies, and that rainbow is magnificent. Such pretty lighthouse decorations too. 🙂

    1. Thanks Sylvia. The rainbow was a shape-shifting, color shifting marvel. I hadn’t seen one like it on the island before and I was glad to be able to catch it in a photo. ~James

    1. There’s lots of golf to be had on SSI Jeannee. As you probably know, they hold the McGladrey Classic here each year and it’s a very big deal for the island. We don’t run with that PGA crowd, but it’s certainly good for local businesses. ~James

  8. Although I haven’t been to St. Simons, I’d say any time is a good time for a visit! Thanks for sharing your most beautiful writing to date and the shot of that rainbow — no wonder the newspaper nabbed it and used it! Here’s to winter on the island!

    1. Thanks very much Rusha. Your words are very kind. As I said, we get fog fairly often this time of year, but the rainbow was an unusual exception. When I shot the rainbow, I was out and about and only had my little Canon point & shoot, so I was glad (and surprised) that the photos turned out as well as they did. ~James

    1. Thanks for your comments Jean and for dropping by the blog. Foggy days at the beach can be eerie and surreal, and this was one of those days. This curious cat paid me little mind, but seemed annoyed that I was interfering in his hunt. And no, I’m not Canadian but am from the US. I’ve been to Canada many times and enjoy it, but my southern bones couldn’t tolerate your winters I’m afraid. ~James

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