Every Monday for the past six months, Rory Lohman and Steve Nicholas have played golf at the picturesque Marlboro Country Club in Prince George's County.
And as Thanksgiving and the winter months approached, the two neighbors sadly contemplated the inevitable Monday when it would be too cold, and they would have to pack up their clubs and shoes until next year.
Certainly no need to pack up yesterday.
"This is nice as I've seen it in November in a long time," said Nicholas, pastor of St. Paul's Moravian Church in Upper Marlboro, as he and his golfing buddy completed their golf date. "You couldn't ask for a better day."
Although no records have been broken in the last few days, above normal temperatures have made it feel like spring, prompting many residents to prolong activities normally reserved for warmer weather.
To hear meteorologists tell it, the mild temperatures should be around for a while, thanks to the weather phenomenon known as La Nina, in which cooler than normal waters of the Pacific Ocean create warmer temperatures for parts of the country, including the mid-Atlantic region.
The National Weather Service's forecast office in Sterling said the high yesterday at Reagan National Airport was 70 degrees, after highs of 73 degrees Sunday and 71 Saturday. All three days were well above the normal high of 56, said Andy Pace, a meteorologist at the weather service.
And don't fear a big cool-down any time soon, Pace said. The 10-day forecast calls for temperatures closer to normal at the end of the week, and maybe even in the 40s and low 50s early next week. But after that, Pace said, expect to see a mild warm-up again, perhaps to the mid- to upper 50s.
The mild pattern is not unlike one that the Washington area enjoyed at the end of November and the beginning of December last year. During the first eight days of December 1998, the highs hovered between the high 60s and 70s, Pace said.
Such warmth is just fine with many area residents, who spent yesterday boating, gardening or merely stepping outside to eat lunch, take walks and enjoy other simple pleasures.
"This is terrific," Mike Johnston, a computer technician from Silver Spring, said as he shared a cup of mint chocolate chip ice cream with daughter Erin, age 1 1/2, at Baskin-Robbins at Congressional Plaza in Rockville. "If this is global warming, keep it coming."
"It's unbelievable, considering the time of year," said Vandy Jamison, 39, a lawyer who broke away from a busy afternoon in Anne Arundel Circuit Court to grab two scoops of butter pecan ice cream in Annapolis.
As Bob Young, 60, helped relatives onto the Allapatchee, a motorboat he had tied up at the Annapolis City Dock, he said the mild weather offered him a rare chance to take his family out on the water in late November.
"For this time of year, I'll take it," Young said as he hit the ignition. "We don't have many days like this left."
People strolled a little slower along the scenic Annapolis waterfront, stopping in shops and resting on benches. Elsewhere, they flooded hardware stores, garden nurseries and outdoor sports retailers, which all reported brisk sales.
At Hudson Trail Outfitters Ltd., customers were still pouring in for mountain bikes, backpacking equipment and even kayaks, trying to extend their summer activities a little longer.
"We love this weather. It's been great to us," said Hank Cohan, general manager of the Gaithersburg-based outdoor-sports equipment retailer. "It's keeping people outdoors, and that's been great for our sales."
At Home Depot in Merrifield, Jen Siciliano cheerfully carted off two Colorado blue spruce trees yesterday, planning one last planting before "real winter" hits. Siciliano, a Capitol Hill staffer, said the weather "was helping a lot."
"Last year, we were clearing away the yard in the cold, and it wasn't so fun. This is much better," Siciliano said.
Deborah Fulton could not have agreed more, but for different reasons. Having lost her Southeast Washington apartment about a year ago because of legal problems, Fulton is homeless. Yesterday, she leaned back on a bench in Lincoln Park in the District and basked in the sun as she kept a hand on the gray garbage bag that held the last of her belongings.
"If it was cold," Fulton said, "I would have to get up and find someplace else to stay."
Not everyone enjoyed the warm weather. In the Crestar Bank office building in Fairfax City, workers were midsummer crabby yesterday, complaining that they couldn't get the maintenance people to turn on the air conditioning.
"It's horrible," said Joyce Tinder, receptionist at a law firm on the building's third floor. "It's like being in a sauna."
Tinder had a room fan running on high near her desk and was sipping water to keep cool, but she said the muggy air made her want to take a nap. "It's a mind-set thing," she said. " . . . Everyone has to adjust."
Jenny Tomkins, a legal secretary in the same firm, said the mid-November heat wave inside her office was making her miserable. When she couldn't get her office windows to budge, she decided to take hourly breaks outside to cool off.
"It's ridiculous how hot it is," Tomkins said. "It makes me grumpy."
Staff writers Darryl Fears, Matthew Mosk, Peter Pae, Manuel Perez-Rivas and Eric L. Wee contributed to this report.
CAPTION: Jason Tran, 19, reflected in water at Rock Creek Park, takes advantage of the weather--the high yesterday was 70 degrees--and practices martial-arts moves.