Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

March 24, 2012

Take advantage of the warm temperatures

Longtime northern Indiana residents can be forgiven for feeling a bit odd lately. There’s a reason for this, and it’s largely positive.

Calendars inform us that spring officially arrived this week. However, recent weather suggests we may have time-warped into summer. Snow and ice are not unknown in March in the Maple City. This year, though, Goshen-area residents have been treated to sunshine, record-high temperatures and early blooms.

This has resulted in more people outdoors more often, taking advantage of the unusual warmth to work and play. It’s been a blast. It’s also cause for concern.

Outside the city limits, many people view spring as a time for burning off dead vegetation or torching trash in burn barrels. That’s fine, except for the fact that windy conditions are a hallmark of spring, including this one. And ill-advised or unchecked burning is conducive to out-of-control field fires.

One recent afternoon, the police scanner in The Goshen News office sounded multiple reports of field fires — including back-to-back incidents in Jefferson Township, as we recall. The reports put us on edge.

There’s nothing “routine” about a field fire, or any blaze. The resources of volunteer departments are stretched thin. The risk of serious property damage or even personal injury is immense.

This drama can be avoided by using a little common sense. Fire can spread quickly, and speed is guaranteed in a breeze. Put another way: Maybe the dead grass can remain unsightly a day or so longer.

Another upside to spring — and one The News is heartened to see every year — is the sight of more people riding bicycles.

Our support of cycling is long-established. Biking is beneficial from a transportation standpoint (less money spent on gas) and from a health angle (it’s better for you than sitting in front of a TV with a bag of pork rinds).

That said, we’re troubled at this start of 2012 cycling season. We’ve seen too many cyclists disregarding stop signs, veering into lanes of oncoming traffic and generally ignoring the rules of the road.

That’s dangerous, and also reflects badly on the cycling community as a whole. This balmy spring has certainly added to cyclists’ zest. It shouldn’t be an irrational exuberance.

Exercise is great. So is exercising caution.

A joke about Indiana weather goes something like this: Like it or not, wait 15 minutes and it will probably change. So let’s enjoy this run of unseasonably fantastic weather while it lasts. Let’s also do so safely.

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