Jeff Smith noon, March 8
Cobbled Shorelines Welcome Summer Solstice
Cobbled shorelines, colorful foliage, magnolias, and summer solstice
Cobbled shorelines are greeting some beachgoers early this summer season, as in past years. North County beaches tend to suffer most, as the natural sand replenishment in the area is disrupted by dams blocking the flow of sediment down the larger streams and rivers. Some sand scooped up from dredging operations is being moved onto the beaches to mitigate this problem. South County's beaches fare better. The widest beach of all, Coronado, is protected from sand loss by the jutting Point Loma peninsula; it catches some sand drifting on currents northward from the mouth of the Tijuana River.
Colorful foliage along San Diego's coastline lingers, despite the lack of rainfall and warmer, drier days. In the older, landscaped neighborhoods of Coronado, Point Loma, Pacific Beach and La Jolla you'll find oleander and hibiscus blooming in many shades, and colorful bougainvillea creeping over garden walls. Look for the magnificent clusters of red flowers adorning the crowns of the flame eucalyptus (red-flowering gum) trees.
Magnolia, the southern-U.S.-native commonly planted as a decorative street tree in many of San Diego's older neighborhoods, continues to bloom this month. Its grandiose description in some botanical books as the "queen of the flowering broadleaf evergreens," accurately gauges its oversize, white, pleasant-smelling flowers.
Summer solstice, the time when the sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky, occurs this year at 4:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Friday, June 20. This fact should not be lost on anyone who might like to throw a TGIF summer-solstice party at quitting time that day. The summer solstice not only marks the beginning of summer for the Northern Hemisphere; it also means that the daylight hours are maximized. San Diegans now enjoy approximately 14 hours of daylight, in contrast to the meager 10 hours or so we experience in December. Anytime this week or next, try checking your shadow at 12:50 p.m. (the local daylight time in San Diego currently equivalent to astronomical noon). The sun is then only 10° south of the straight-up direction and casts near-vertical shadows. A lesser-known consequence of the summer solstice is that our twilight periods are longer than usual. Evening and morning twilight periods are now lasting more than 90 minutes.