Mindful that a mantle of snow covered Washington one weekend ago, hundreds of area residents basked yesterday in 50 degree temperatures and balmy breezes that hinted spring was on its way.
At the Monument grounds, more than 100 newly arrived oilmen from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas gathered to construct an oil rig, the symbol of their protest here against windfall profits tax legislation on Capitol Hill. Scores of police and tourists surrounded them, some taking pictures and watching the progress.
"It's a beautiful day," declared Deputy Police Chief Robert W. Klotz, watching the oilmen. "Last week this time I was digging out of the snow."
Yesterday's 2 p.m. high of 54 degrees was one degree higher than normal for the area. It was, however, about 20 degrees lower than on Saturday. Saturday's high of 74 was just 3 degrees short of record, 77 degrees, set in 1921.
National Weather Service foreasters predicted temperatures will range from the low 40s to highs in the mid-50s today and Tuesday. Tuesday will be a little cooler with high temperatures in the low 50s. Little or no precipitation is expected for the next several days, forecasters said.
The oilmen, who arrived yesterday, could not have picked a nicer day. As tourists, joggers and morning strollers looked on, a caravan of oil pumpers, trucks, buses and cars -- about 30 vehicles -- rolled across the 14th Street bridge and into the city at about 10:45 a.m. They camped on the Mall grounds.
According the Charles Morgan, an independent Oklahoma oil producer and state legislator, the group plans a week of lobbying on the Hill to try to keep the House and Senate from passing the windfall profits tax bill.
While the oil riggers grabbed attention on the Mall, about 60 people gathered several blocks away at Dupont Circle to watch a local singer produce a video tape to be used to promote her singing act.
"I'm trying to get rid of a cold and I had to get out to get some sun," said Stephen Mowbray, a Logan Circle resident who was passing by Dupont Circle when he spotted the crowd watching the taping.
The singer, Sandy Anderson, wearing a black and silver sequined gown with a slit up to there, danced atop the ledge of the dupont Circle fountain, mouthing the words to a song while the tape rolled. Men holding stuffed mannequins danced around her as joggers ran by, lovers holding hands stopped briefly to gawk, and several carloads of youths honked horns in passing.
Earl Williams, a District of Columbia resident, looked up at the sun shining brightly, then back to the singer.
"We have enough trouble in the world, and it's nice that people can do something like this," he said, turning his head to watch the crowd. "We need something like this."
About a block down Connecticut Avenue, Paul Dichiara sat on a fence with a friend, Conley Wright, basking in the sun and waiting for friends to join them.
"All we need is one more cold snap to make people feel that weather is fickle," Dichiara said.
"Today is a perfect day to be out walking around," said Wright, holding her face up to bathe it in the sun's rays. "Wow, what a day," she said.