Summer is Here

The Summer Solstice celebration on Friday evening June 21 marked the start of the summer season. Several dozen celebrants came to the Cesar Chavez Memorial Solar Calendar to share the moment and to hear Tory Brady of the SF Exploratorium Teacher Institute and Vivian White, Director of Free Choice Learning at the Astronomy Society of the Pacific explain what happens at the solstices and how the seasons change.

Solstice Celebration at the Cesar Chavez Memorial Solar Calendar (Phil Rowntree photo)

Other signs of the season include the flights of the new crop of Red-winged Blackbirds the previous week. Here is one small contingent of the flock of probably more than a hundred new blackbirds that took wing on the north side of the park. The new ones are a bit smaller than their parents and both sexes are black and lack epaulets.

Red-winged Blackbirds hatched this season

Another sign is the blooming of the fennel. A few pioneers are in bloom now, giving a hint of the broad display that will follow.

Early fennel in bloom

With the dry weather, the tall vegetation on the southern hills and the central meadows threatened to become a fire hazard. The birds that had been breeding in some of these spots had finished their important business, and mowing now presented no threat.

With the mowing done, this hill where the grasses swayed with the wind just a week ago became a straw colored short-haired mound.

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