17 December 1620
“Now the heart of winter … the weather was very cold and it froze hard as the spray of the sea lighting on the coats, they were as if they had been glazed.”
~ William Bradford, historian & governor of
These words were written three days before the landing of a rowboat onto a sandy beach. Without ceremony, 10 men deemed this land good, having many advantages over the other places explored and surveyed. No large ship or big rock here, but nevertheless this was Plymouth, Mass. – “the real deal.”
The familiar story continues…
The Mayflower and its passengers dropped anchor in Provincetown, safe from the harsh winter storm. Here they awaited word from those 10 men. Their small boat returned with good news.
United again, the entire Mayflower party – 102 passengers, 30 crew, two dogs (an English Mastiff and an English Spaniel), a few cats (rat and mice management) and pigs and chickens – set sail and arrived in Plymouth on Dec. 26 (one day after Christmas). A Merry Christmas was had by the Pilgrims as they continued their saga that is our foundation and reason for celebrating Thanksgiving Day.
The winter of 1620-21, after its harsh beginning, turned mild after the first of the year. “… a calm winter, such as was never seen here since,” wrote Thomas Dudley of Massachusetts Bay. Diaries kept during that time speak of an early spring also.
This unusual weather was certainly considered a blessing, after the Pilgrims’ long and difficult voyage. But for almost half of the original passengers, it came too late. Being confined in close quarters, many succumbed to viral and bacterial diseases. Malnutrition, including scurvy, and dysentery from illnesses and spoiled food were also causes of their demise. In spite of all of these, two babies entered the world on the Mayflower, one born at sea and the other soon after reaching land.
Many passengers and crew lived on board the ship, anchored a mile-and-a-half offshore. and went to the land each day, weather permitting, to return before nightfall.
Building adequate shelters was a priority. While ashore, men also hunted and the women and children gathered what edible vegetation they could find. Historical sources attest to an abandoned native village, including a food storage left behind by its inhabitants. The contents apparently were gleaned by the Pilgrims.
Most early Pilgrim writers dwelt very briefly on the subject of New England weather and climate. Why would this be? Simple … they were bent on sending favorable reports to not only impress their sponsors in England, but to persuade other potential settlers to make the tough decision to come to America.
Yes, the rest is history …
Weather-wise here? A storm to the north brings a 30% chance of rain into Thursday to Saturday. An uncommonly slight temperature range of high 50s to low 50s is expected. Breezy and a bit warmer by Monday.
Happy Thanksgiving Day – Partly cloudy, high 72, low 52 and rain 10% to 20% chance.
Weather History: High – 90 (1936)
Low – 36 (1930)
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at email@example.com.