Thursday, July 20, 2017, 715 am 68 degrees
Today a pale blue, cloudless sky is tinged with gray at the horizon. A gentle breeze blows on Fair Oaks Bridge as sunlight glares on the water. I meet a couple looking over the side of the bridge and ask what they are looking at. They are looking for the beaver that was eating a salmon whole by stripping the meat right off the bones. They showed me where to look on the shoreline to find its home. I also found out they sighted two river otters and a seal that wandered far from its home turf into the American River one day.
I listen to short stories of past times at the bridge, the antics of busy young boys who dived into the deep end of the river from the bridge, speared salmon running wild and fished from a secret cove.
There was a day when cars still drove on the bridge. Next, we walked over to view a tree with long, spiny branches hanging over the riverbank and found a turtle sunbathing away on a branch. Later that day, I saw two sitting side by side. The water is still. The air remains cool.
Cyclists race by, some stroll past. A few walkers with dogs cross the bridge. The couple and I agreed that Egrets and Great Blue Heron have left this part of the American River and found somewhere else with a more plentiful food source. Today I see no pigeons, geese or ducks. The river feels empty.
Amazing how easy it is to miss Fair Oaks Bridge. Thousands of drivers crossing the Sunrise Blvd. bridge enjoy a full view of the Fair Oaks about half mile to the west as they pass by during morning and evening commutes. I hear runners and walkers new to the neighborhood say, “I did not even know this was here. I had to discover it!”
Birds fly and call out. A lonely Mallard floats on the river and quacks once – He waits a minute and then quacks again.
Fair Oaks Bridge is not the place to be in a hurry. I sit and write a while. Seven Canada geese fly over calling to each other. I hear park rangers sawing an illegal boat ramp on a nearby riverbank. No one is fishing today. The Dept of Fish and Wildlife boat speeds away.
I walk back over the bridge to go home and see two turtles sunbathing on the branch. A passing walker comments on the turtles, “There used to be 10. I am surprised there are any left after the winter flooding.”