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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Residents Relish the Rebound of Typical Southland Sunshine

Weather: Springlike conditions draw swarms of people to parks and beaches while others go to work in their gardens after weeks of rain and cold.

March 13, 2000|KATIE COOPER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Ventura County residents streamed to parks and beaches Sunday as the first sunny weekend in nearly a month offered the region a much needed dose of spring fever.

Some turned to their gardens, planting flowers and doing yard work after a series of winter storms drenched the county for what many people were beginning to think was an insufferable period of time.

Abel Villasenor, a manager at a nursery in Ventura, said crowds of gardeners started lining up Friday for freshly blooming marigolds, daisies and irises.

"It's the first good weekend in so long," Villasenor said. "They have a lot of catching up to do to get ready for spring."

The good weather is expected to last for at least several days, a National Weather Service meteorologist said.

Highs will range from the mid-60s on the coast to low 80s inland for today and much of the week, said meteorologist Bruce Rockwell.

No rain is in sight through at least Thursday, the forecaster said.

"It's definitely different from what we've had this past month," he said.

Janet Foy spent Sunday morning weeding at her Fillmore home before heading to a nursery to buy a camellia.

"My grandmother used to have them," said Foy, 45. "They are so beautiful."

Foy and her friend, Santa Paula resident Sandy Thompson, said they came even though they expected the nursery to be crowded.

"Isn't it beautiful?" asked Thompson, as she basked in Ventura's 69-degree temperature. "This is why we live in Southern California."

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At Ventura's Camino Real Park, 8-year-old David Tapia said he hoped the sun would encourage thirsty tennis players and bike riders to patronize his lemonade stand.

Still, at only 15 cents per cup, Tapia, a third-grader at Loma Vista Elementary School, conceded he probably wouldn't make very much money.

"I just do it for fun," he said.

And at Surfers Point, members of the Ventura Surf Club who had gathered to raise funds for Arden Taylor, a local resident suffering from inoperable brain cancer, called the weather a good omen for their friend.

"Miracles can happen," said Keith Akins, who coordinated the surfing contest. "We have had rain for the last three stinking weeks and now we have sunshine and great waves for Arden."

Denny Martin, a friend of Taylor, who drove up from the San Diego area, also professed a belief in a higher power as a school of dolphins frolicked just offshore.

"They were predicting a storm for this weekend, where did it go?" he asked. "And the waves were so glassy yesterday--that just doesn't happen this time of year."

Taylor, whose condition was diagnosed in September, said he has put his faith in God to pull him through the illness.

"If you've got a doctor looking you in the face and saying you've got 12 months to live, you might as well not even get out of bed if you didn't have Him," said Taylor, 42.

The event, which drew 150 contestants and also featured a raffle of surf art, raised close to $5,000 for the Taylor family, who now depend on the income from Taylor's wife, Laura, a seventh-grade science teacher at Anacapa Middle School in Ventura.

The Ventura couple have two boys, 8-year-old Graham and 12-year-old Jesse.

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Taylor, who has surfed for 26 years, could not join in because of his health. He said members of his church, Calvary Chapel in Oxnard, had prayed for good weather so the event would be a success.

"It's not the money," said Laura Taylor, 40. "It's just the show of support from people who love you and care about you. That's what keeps you going."

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