It's been busy in town lately, and that's a good thing. The sun rose on Thursday at 5:59 a.m. and will set at 7:30 p.m. April optimism is setting in.
On the water, buoy data from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration showed sea temperatures topping out at 54 degrees locally. Last year at this time, the water temperature hovered around 45.
In the car, the dashboard thermometer read 81 on Tuesday, good enough to bring out short sleeves and pale skin (largely in equal measure).
They say we're in for a cool-down this week, but not by much.
This is a good thing; Newport lives and dies by the weather.
In downtown, fair skies and hints of summer make for crowded streets, fill up restaurants, and make merchants happy.
The season can't come soon enough.
On Saturday, a few brave souls were enticed into the surf at Easton's Beach. On Monday, still more were lured into the water at Jamestown's Mackerel Cove. In Middletown, Second Beach was filled with surfers over the weekend; the waves, small as they were, seemed secondary.
The water, it was remarked by one longtime sun worshipper, seemed particularly clean.
As it turns out, it's some of the cleanest. At least, that's what the EPA reported in a recent study that ranked the nation's cleanest waterways. Rhode Island ranked only behind Nevada and Arizona, which as you're probably aware, aren't particularly known for their coastlines.
We, of course, are. That's why it was heartening to see so many volunteers who donned green shirts last weekend as groups like Clean Ocean Access and the city's Clean City Program turned out from King Park to Brenton Point for a preemptive Earth Day cleanup.
If you missed out, not to worry: Earth Day falls on April 22 this year, and there are plenty of opportunities around town to celebrate it.
Martha Stewart was in town this week, Tweeting photos from Bailey's Beach and visiting Sweet Berry Farm.
This, as she would say, is a good thing.
So too is the news that the we've been hearing from City Hall.
Last week, city councilors got behind a proposal by Gov. Chafee to help communities reign in their finances, while the School Committee committed to pursuing shared services.
On Saturday, councilors are scheduled to once again meet for a special strategy session to discuss how best to improve its communication efforts. We're hopeful the meeting will yield results.
And then there was City Manager Jane Howington's decision to set an eco-friendly example; you'll find her these days going from here to there in a red Prius bearing city plates. We wonder how much gas and how much carbon dioxide could be saved if the city were to adopt a policy of "greening" its fleet, even if only for non-emergency vehicles.
Speaking of the environment, ours has been rather dry lately. At the Clarke Cooke House over the weekend, a recent arrival from Southern California marveled at the recent spate of Red Flag warnings cast over the region, indicating a high risk of brush fires. A lively conversation about the weather (of all things) ensued.
All agreed, April optimism has set in.