'Warmth' relieves cabin fever Higher temperatures lure the restless outside for a spell

January 15, 1996|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,SUN STAFF

After a week cooped up at home with her parents, Tyra Smith, 2, finally found happiness outside at the Inner Harbor.

"Look at the birds," Tyra squealed, as she tossed another Saltine cracker to an adoring flock of ducks and pigeons at the Baltimore tourist spot.

This was the first real winter for Tyra and her mom and dad, who are from Louisiana, and they had to take advantage of yesterday's sunny weather.

"She's been bouncing off the walls," said Jackie Smith, "and this is the closest we're going to see to spring for a while."

Outshined all week by the snow, a jealous sun drenched Maryland yesterday, spreading more light than heat but winning over Marylanders anyway.

The high was 44, and the National Weather Service expects similar weather before the onset of rain later in the week.

"This is like a heat wave," said a giddy Katherine Melton, 11, who spent yesterday afternoon at the Inner Harbor ice rink. As she spoke, two middle-aged men in shorts jogged by.

The rink's loudspeaker played Bobby McFerrin's standard, "Don't Worry Be Happy," an anthem worthy of the day.

While those who ventured out said they had plenty of shopping and other errands to do, yesterday was for putting a week's worth of work and frustrations behind.

Manuel Alban, publisher of the Spanish-language weekly newspaper El Heraldo, spent the week snowbound in Churchville and unable to distribute his most recent two editions. But the sunny weather eased his frustration, and he expects no problems with this week's issue.

"I walked outside today and for the first time in a week just looked around," he said. "It's nice, very nice."

Area businesses and gathering places reported a surge in patrons. At the Borders Books & Music in Towson Commons, "they seem to be making up for all the shopping they missed last week," said manager Doug Dworkin. "People seem to be in unusually good moods."

In Elkridge, the Blockbuster video store reported sales as well as a slew of video returns by the snowbound.

And in Annapolis, dozens of walkers and even a few fishermen returned to the icy harbor, said Tom Richardson, assistant front office manager for the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront hotel.

"There's still not too much activity," said Mr. Richardson. "But we have 30 legislators here. That helps keep up the business."

Carroll County residents preferred the roads to the walkways, said Dennis Blauvelt, an employee of the Cranberry Exxon on Route 140 in Westminster. "It seems like all the people who stayed at home last week are now on the roads," he said.

But for all the warm feelings, some of the snow-weary remained suspicious about the sunny weather. Mother Nature, some mused, could be playing a game with us.

"It's a beautiful day," said a smiling Henok Mengist as he left friends in Baltimore to return home to New Jersey.

Then the 25-year-old car dealer stared at the afternoon sun for a moment, and the smile left his face. "Maybe it's just a little too beautiful for this time of year."

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