It was easy yesterday to ignore the bare trees, forget the Thanksgiving preparations and loll in the sun, dreaming summer dreams.
On a day of record-breaking warm weather, people across Maryland savored vestiges of summer with all the enthusiasm that the approach of winter inspires. They ditched their jackets and lunched outdoors or ducked out of their offices early, as the temperature soared to 74 degrees at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, breaking by 2 degrees the record set 30 years ago.
Neil Middleton, a senior engineer at Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., took the afternoon off to experience "what might be the last warm day of the year before it gets cold and snowy," he said.
After trading in his business suit for shorts and sneakers, Mr. Middleton strolled around Centennial Lake near Columbia with his wife, Lisa. They weren't alone. The park was filled with runners, walkers, duck feeders, fishermen and bench potatoes.
"People are coming out here in their shorts like it is summertime," said Susan Ricketts, a Howard County recreation and parks official. Last year at this time, the park was "dead," she said. "There was not a soul around here back then."
Fred Davis, a National Weather Service forecaster at BWI, said southwesterly winds from the Gulf of Mexico were responsible for the latest gasp of Indian summer.
The temperature at the Baltimore Custom House reached 72 degrees -- short of the record 76 set in 1928.
But a cold front is expected to push the warm air out by today and send temperatures back into the 50s, setting a more appropriate mood for the city's annual Thanksgiving Day parade. The parade, which is to begin at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Eutaw Street, will feature the arrival of Santa Claus at Harborplace.
Few people wasted time dreaming of a white Christmas yesterday. In Towson, the magnificent weather brought scores of people outside -- many wearing shorts and T-shirts.
"We had a cool spring so we're entitled to a warm fall," said lawyer Benjamin Bronstein, as he enjoyed the Court House gardens. "It's a wonderful day."
In Annapolis, bright sunlight glinted off water strewn with falleleaves as Pat and Jo Hickey of Springfield, Va., pushed a cart full of sea gear down the pier at Port Annapolis Marina.
They were going to do some work on their boat, a 33-foot Endeavour named Vigil III, said Mrs. Hickey, but whether they went sailing depended on the wind. Just then, a breeze straightened flags in the rigging of a nearby boat and a windsock in another.
The retired couple had planned to go sailing Monday, but the gusts would have made it uncomfortable,
they said. So they rescheduled for yesterday.
"We were going to go sailing anyway," said Mr. Hickey, a retired naval officer and school guidance director. "But the weather is a real plus."
In Frederick, Linda Jenkins and a friend spent the morning shopping in Frederick's historic district, then headed to Baker Park for lunch to revel in the late season sunshine.
"It's fun to shop and take advantage of days like these, rather than those cold, wintry days going in and out of stores with heavy coats and boots," said Mrs. Jenkins of Walkersville. "This is a picture-perfect day. We're lucky to still have days like this in November."
Other people, however, refused to give in to summer fever.
Ms. Ricketts wore a park and recreation sweat shirt and jeans despite the balmy temperatures.
"After all," she said, "it is November, and one should dress for November."