Autumn weather has provided days to treasure

November 29, 1994|By JACQUES KELLY

What did we do to deserve the beautiful fall weather we've had for all these weeks?

My city garden remains green. Neighbors are still cutting bouquets of autumn roses. The larkspur seeds I scattered five or six weeks ago are up and running. There's a big maple tree three doors away that remains half yellow and half green.

Consider some of the meteorological riches we've experienced. September was cool and dry, free of the blasts of heat and humidity that can make that month torturous. How many of us can recall first-week-of-school geometry classes in super-hot classrooms, especially when the person sitting a desk away failed to shower after gym class? This September was a month of pure mercy, when the ninth month behaved for a change.

October won the blue ribbon for color and clarity. The skies were sunny on so many days I could not resist the urge to bolt the indoors and leave no forwarding address. This was the year when you didn't have to go to New England to see the color. It was all over the area and didn't quit for weeks.

Friends had all been praising the walking and bike paths created along the old railroad lines that once came into Baltimore. This season propelled me to get out and inspect the Northern Central trail through Baltimore County at Monkton.

As a child, I rode this route in a maroon red Pennsylvania Railroad coach from Baltimore to Williamsport, Pa., then by automobile to Loch Haven and Bald Eagle Street, my grandfather's family home. I thought nothing could really compare with those excursions up the Jones Falls Valley past the old stations in Riderwood, Cockeysville and York. I was wrong.

No wonder I wasn't the only one on the Northern Central Trail the morning I played hooky from responsibilities and took off toward Parkton. The valley off Blue Mount Road was all mist; the air appropriately heavy. Soon the sun cut through the trees. The canopy of trees lighted up. Were the golds ever as brilliant as those of this vintage October 1994?

November is our forgotten month, the month that Baltimore often overlooks for weather. True, there can be miserable, soggy and damp Novembers, but the one now passing was one to remember.

It did, of course, get off to a roaring start the early afternoon of Nov. 1. It will be hard to forget that cloud that swept in from the west and turned the skies into a vat of ink. The storm looked mean and passed through quickly. Never did I expect it would lift roofs off homes along North Avenue like they were lids on tin cans.

But like so much of the weather, the mess ended as quickly as it arrived. It didn't seem fair and equitable the morning I visited the corner of North Avenue and Aisquith Street to inspect the tornado damage. A work crew was unloading sheets of plywood to hold together a damaged rowhouse. The weather was so benign, so cool and bright, not a hint of the rage of a few days previous.

As the 11th month of the year rolled along, there were only a few mornings when the grass was coated with frost or dawns that the cellar furnace coughed up noises like the boilers on the Titanic. I think the kids in my neighborhood are still wearing shorts and cut-offs, but they do that whatever the temperature is.

HTC This was the fall when my house finally got painted. The old outdoor thermometer came off and was declared dead. I never bothered to put a new one up. What was the need? The days were so temperate you didn't need to consult the mercury. We've had three months of California weather.

Then Thanksgiving arrived, the day of the harvest festival, the day of family gatherings and good will. I was surrounded by old friends and family this past Wednesday night when my sister Mary Stewart looked out a window. It was snowing. Soon windshields and streets were covered just a little bit, the kind of snow that makes you feel good if you're inside a big and cozy house and not on Interstate 95 near Newark, Del.

After I got up early Thanksgiving morning, I walked to the kitchen window and found the grass dusted with a light flour-shaking of snow. This was the kind of snow that seemed sent by Hollywood. It was almost too perfect, lightly covering the branches of shrubs still stained in fall reds and yellows. I smelled the scent of the sauerkraut we'd be feasting on in a few hours and thought to myself, enjoy this scene now, December and what follows is just around the Jet Stream.

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