Ah, It's Spring at Last : Welcome Sights of the Budding Season Turn Heads, Change Minds, Touch Hearts

Times Staff Writer

Bill Young, a maintenance electrician from Huntington Beach, got off work at 7 a.m. Wednesday and intended to go boating.

But by 9 a.m. he had decided, for some reason, to "just go for a drive." He wound up doing something he'd never done before: sleeping in the sun on San Clemente State Beach.

What had happened in those two hours was the arrival of spring, at 8:14 a.m. Spring came to Orange County on a day that was a bit hazy and not all that warm (temperatures in the low 70s inland, mid-60s on the coast). There had been other days like it in 1985.

But it was the first day of spring, and somehow, it seemed warm enough for a ride in a convertible. For the first time, sunglasses seemed appropriate.

Spots of red could be seen in the Irvine strawberry fields, and the fresh blooms of wildflowers along the San Diego Freeway demanded to be noticed.

The spring foals had begun to arrive at Live Oak Canyon Riding Stables, in the hills east of El Toro. Seemingly overnight, the ice plant in front of the Martins' home, along Live Oak Canyon Road, had exploded into a carpet of magenta blossoms.

Children walking along Del Obispo Street from Capistrano Valley Christian School took time to notice the rich colors in Reggie and Luisa Nieblas' garden in San Juan Capistrano--a vast one by current suburban standards.

"I noticed the fig tree's got little figs now," Luisa Nieblas said. "The new fruit trees are getting blossoms. The peach and plum are in bloom . . . . The apple and persimmons are just beginning to sprout."

It's hard to keep up such a garden, she said. Their lot is so large it could easily hold two present-day houses. The land has not been subdivided since her mother and father bought it in 1902. She was born there and has lived there all her 77 years.

But the beauty of the garden is worth the work it takes on days like this one, said her husband, sitting in the shade on the patio. "It's been cloudy and the shade has been cold, but this is a nice day," he said. "A very nice day."

Baseball Season Near

Signs of spring were in the cities, as well.

The sign outside Anaheim Stadium announced baseball, and people had begun buying tickets at the newly opened California Angels ticket office. That first game, hot dog and beer were less than three weeks away.

At Jerome Schultz's drugstore in San Clemente, the hay fever pills were in the rack nearest the cash register, ready to relieve another of spring's inevitabilities. "Haven't sold too many," Schultz said. "It's been pretty cold, but, any day now . . . ."

By the calendar, Wednesday marked the end of a damp, cold winter in Southern California and there should be no more frosts to bruise Luisa Nieblas' plants. Her attention now will shift to killing snails.

But the change of seasons went unnoticed in some quarters.

In the green canyons east of San Juan Capistrano lies the Prima Deshecha Sanitary Landfill, Orange County's most scenic dump. Sitting on a chair in the center of clearing and directing the trash-truck traffic, was Robert Street.

Did he notice anything different about today?

"Naw, it's always the same at the dump."

It doesn't make any difference that it is the first day of spring?

"Not when the wind's blowing in your face."

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