Monday, May 14, 2001

Sunny days should lift our spirits

        Cincinnati's experiencing the sunniest spring in memory.Yet, not everyone's beaming. Could be because for more than a month now every beautiful forecast has included a chance of ugliness.

        Storm clouds of racial unrest, turmoil and indecision threaten the city's peace and spring's tranquillity.

        Makes me wonder if I should do the right thing by Mother Nature and enjoy the clear skies and balmy breezes.

        To solve my dilemma, I turned to three experts. They know about spring from the ground up:

        • Tim Hedrick, WKRC-TV's jovial weather authority.

        • Jim Cummins, a poet and curator of the University of Cincinnati's Elliston Poetry Collection.

        • Denny McKeown, gardening expert and Cincinnati's walking green thumb.

        One expert keeps his eyes on the sky.

        The other has his head in the clouds.

        The third makes his living by having his feet firmly planted on the ground.

        All three favor savoring the sunshine.

Today's forecast
               Tim Hedrick gave me the meteorological lowdown on the good weather.

        “We've been riding a semipermanent, pseudo-quasi ridge of high pressure,” he explained. “Normally it comes and goes. Lately, it's been sticking around, creating a string of doggone good weather.”

        High-pressure ridges bring in warm, dry air. Nighttime and daytime temperatures stay above average. Rainfall stays below normal.

        “Even when it does rain,” Channel 12's chief meteorologist noted, “it's often been at night. And there's no severe weather.”

        No violent storms. No monsoon rains. No freak freezes, sleet or snowfalls.

        As a weatherman, Tim Hedrick is in the business of analyzing as well as prognosticating what's going on in the sky. So, I asked him how blue skies can help in times of strife.

        “People's moods might be even worse,” he said, “if the weather wasn't lifting everyone's spirits.”

Ode to spring
               Putting his poetic powers to the test, Jim Cummins pondered the coexistence of restful weather and civil unrest. In the process, he turned a negative into a positive.

        “I came here as a college kid to go to UC in 1967,” he said. “That was right after the riots. Then, as now, the weather and unrest were hot. Then, as now, you could appreciate one thing Cincinnati has done right. And that is to preserve its green space.”

        Each urban oasis of trees, flowers, shrubs and grass contains the power to cool the air as well as tempers. The plants' fragrances can create lasting memories.

        “These warm days and nights remind me of the scent of spring,” the poet said.

        “After the sun goes down, the air is thick with the sweet perfume of honeysuckle nights.”

        Denny McKeown thanks “that old girl, Mother Nature” for honeysuckle nights “as well as for letting us see dogwood, crab apple and black locust trees in bloom all at the same time. We're seeing six weeks of color all at once.”

        He feels community leaders could make their dispositions sunnier by taking “a serious look at Mother Nature's work.”

        “If ever there was a time to stop and smell the roses,” he said, “it's now.”


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