Only trees ignore early warm spell Parks, playgrounds popular as temperature soars to unseasonable 81

March 29, 1998|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

The leafless trees realize it's still March, but they are perhaps the only ones.

As the Baltimore area reveled in the second day of the year's first warm spell, carwashers, grass-cutters and even sunbathers made unseasonably early appearances.

The goal for most people seemed to be simply to get outside -- whether to a park or a parking lot didn't seem to matter. With clear skies, stiff breezes and 80-degree temperatures, it was just too nice to stay inside.

Children scampered everywhere, and dogs ran with abandon. "I've never lain out in March before," said Jenn Hodge of Annapolis, who was catching her first rays at Loch Raven Reservoir with her sister, Ann Leifert of Parkville.

"It's weird to lay out when the trees aren't even out yet," added Leifert, who was celebrating her 29th birthday on a sunny hill above the reservoir.

But the early start of warm weather meant that they could soak up sun without worrying about shade or shadows overtaking them.

Joseph and Geraldine Coccia of Highlandtown were making the reservoir their first stop on an outing without a destination.

"We're going to ride through here, and there's no telling where we'll go," said Mr. Coccia, 76. With a new car, his wife of nearly 50 years beside him and a fast-food lunch eaten in the shadow of the dam, "I'm living a good life," he said.

"It's very pretty. We come out here often," said Coccia, though he was disappointed that the dogwoods were not in bloom.

The official high yesterday was 81 at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Though it did not break the 1989 record of 85 degrees, the temperature sailed well above the average high of 58 for the date.

The warm weather is expected to continue through midweek with temperatures in the low to mid- 80s today and tomorrow.

Car trouble and the good weather gave Steve Fuchsluger an unexpected outing with his family. When repairs on the family van took longer than expected, the Carney resident and his five children took a short walk to Putty Hill Park in Parkville.

There, John, 8, Amy, 6, Theresa, 5, Gregory, 3, and 18-month-old David Fuchsluger took to the park's jungle gym and spread out among the swings. "They've been asking for a long time to come here," said their father, who was the parent-in-charge yesterday while their mother attended an all-day conference at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Towson.

In the city, Ephraim Johnson took advantage of not only the good weather, but also "the water God gave us." Using water from a stream running through Herring Run Park off Belair Road, Johnson was washing the vestiges of many rainy weekends from his Chevrolet van early yesterday.

He was not alone.

Down the road, Steve Rice was touching up the shine on his Oldsmobile Cutlass, while on call for the property management company where he works. And in neighborhoods everywhere, drivers were sudsing and shining their cars.

Across the park road from Johnson and Rice, Theodore and Joyce Weddington and their daughter, Rachel, had the Herring Run playground to themselves. Rachel, 4, was trying out the shiny new equipment.

And her parents were enjoying her playground prowess.

"On a day like this, I guess you can call yourself catching up," said Theodore Weddington. "I guess that's why we got such an early start. When two parents work, your child spends more time with her baby sitter than with you.

"She's surprising us. The first warm day, she's sliding, she's swinging," he said. "She's doing things we didn't know she could do. That's what winter does to you. It limits you."

Pub Date: 3/29/98

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