A Day In January

January 8, 1998

"And what is so rare as a day in June?" famously inquired the poet James Russell Lowell. Answer: a Sunday in January when the thermometer soars above 60 and the Chinese witch hazel fairly shrieks, "Look at me! I'm budding! I'm budding!"

The day was, said Richard B. Hendrickson, the Federal weather observer in Bridgehampton, one to remember, a day for the books. The high was 62, the hottest recorded for a January day, he said, since 1932, when the mercury hit 66.

In Springs, one outdoor thermometer in a protected, sun-drenched corner of a garden actually went to 64. At Georgica Beach in East Hampton, a stroller out for an ocean constitutional found herself walking a mile or so more than she does in summer, for the newness and surprise of it. Surfers and dogs, she reported, were bobbing about on the winter waves.

Movie matinees were emptier than usual for a school-vacation Sunday, but Montauk's Main Street, and Sag Harbor's, were full of T-shirted shoppers looking for post-holiday bargains. In Amagansett, the town tennis courts on Abraham's Path actually had players waiting at one point. And gleeful golfers were out in force everywhere.

A meteorologist at Penn State University told The New York Times that the balmy weather will stick around awhile. The weekend, he said, was only the start of "many, many mild, cloudy days."

It sounds like a perfect prescription for an early spring.