At long last, the ice age is over: Spring beckons in Baltimore!

March 21, 1994|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,Sun Staff Writer

Spring arrived yesterday, and the people came out of their houses, marveling at the strangeness of temperatures in the low 60s and a sky so blue it made you wince.

Has the Baltimore area ever been happier to greet a new season? Not in recent memory. Lord, it was a rotten winter! What were there, 50 or 60 major storms? Or did it just seem that way?

There were even a few particularly ugly times when the region was hit by snow, ice, hail, rain and flooding all in the same day! About the only thing missing was locusts.

Or maybe the locusts hit, too. Who knows? We were all inside at the time.

But yesterday was a day to be outdoors. At the crowded Inner Harbor, Bob Dawson Jr. of Rodgers Forge was an imposing sight walking his racing greyhounds River Bob and John Pace.

Like many, Mr. Dawson was thankful that winter was over, although at first his story seemed grimmer than most.

"My wife and I couldn't walk the dogs for two straight months because the sidewalks were full of ice," Mr. Dawson said.

This leads a listener to conclude that the Dawsons' home looked like a cross between the siege of Vicksburg and a parade site after the elephants go by.

"No, it was OK," he said. "The dogs re-trained themselves to go in the backyard, do their business, and come in."

Obviously, spring means different things to different people.

To many, spring means dieting. It means picking up the newspaper and seeing ads from diet centers that proclaim: "Mrs. Lucy R. Siegenmacher lost 43 pounds! You can, too!"

Accompanying the text is the classic "Before" photo of a large woman dressed in short shorts and tight T-shirt sprawled on a lawn chair. In the "After" shot, the same woman has been magically transformed into a temptress in a size 6 cocktail dress, complete with stunning cosmetic makeover and fashionable new hairstyle.

"Everyone I know is dieting -- including me," said Beth Diesu of Brightwaters, N.Y., another visitor to the Inner Harbor. "From this day forward, I will never eat again."

When it was pointed out to Ms. Diesu by her husband, Doug, that the body needs nutrients in order to sustain life, and that otherwise one would shrivel up and be mistaken for a planter, she relented.

"Fine," she said. "I'll have a small slice of pizza, but that's it."

Gardeners, awake!

Spring means a return to the earth, a reawakening of the primal urge to put one's hands in the soil, to root around and plant, or simply to run amok with one's weed-whacker.

OC Valley View Farms in Cockeysville seemed like the most inviting

place on God's green earth yesterday. Business was brisk as people emerged from their Jeeps and Nissan Maximas and Dodge minivans and plunged into the shrubbery, blinking like moles in the bright sunshine.

"People are so anxious for the nice weather -- they're talking about tomato plants already," said Carrie Engel, retail greenhouse manager. "They've been coming in for weeks saying: 'Thank God, at least it's spring in here.' "

Spring means street mimes. Depending on your point of view, mimes are either the most annoying people around or the spiritual giants of the performing arts.

No mimes were sighted downtown, but there was no shortage of street performers such as Barry Perhamsky, 35, of Baltimore, a self-styled juggler/clown/magician whose act, amazingly, did not include a monkey with a mouth organ.

"Spring is here, business is wonderful," he said with a smile.

If Mr. Perhamsky's act was too sedate for some, a woman named Mardene was juggling flaming torches and machetes atop a 6-foot unicycle at the Harborplace amphitheater.

She explained to the crowd that this was her first solo performance. Many in the front row quickly took a step or two back.

Pothole perils

Spring means potholes. In the southbound lane of the Harrisburg Expressway, just before it reaches the Beltway, a sizable crevasse cleaved the two right-hand lanes yesterday.

Unsuspecting motorists would see it at the last minute and swerve Starsky-and-Hutch-style to avoid it. A man in a maroon Toyota Camry with Pennsylvania tags did not avoid the pothole. His car rattled and shook as he hit the hole.

Months from now, when he's handed a bill for a new suspension by a man with grease-stained overalls named Bud who's standing under an old Miss Pennzoil calendar, the Pennsylvania motorist may rue this day.

If you're interested, Baltimore County estimates it will fix even more than the record 48,900 potholes filled last spring, while city road crews are busy patching 1,000 potholes a day.

Of course, you're probably not interested.

L All you care about is that spring -- finally -- has arrived.

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