September 8, 2017, 635 am    64 degrees

Mist covers my car windshield. I wonder if this morning chill will continue in mornings to come.

My mornings of wearing shorts, a t-shirt and sandals are certainly to become less frequent. Chickens that provide daily wake up calls in Fair Oaks Village are still slumbering. I see three cars as I walk through the village streets. Hot Yoga parking lot is double stacked with cars – located on the street about 100 steps from Fair Oaks Bridge.

chickens, morning, sounds, greet, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River
Okay, take the photo so I can finish crossing the street.

Today is a cloudy morning. By the time I wake up, any color in the sky from the sunrise has vanished. A trio of chickens wake up and stand in the street on the way to the bridge. Only one greets me with a good morning crow. The others are far too busy scratching the dirt to find breakfast. On my walk to Fair Oaks Bridge, one small chicken is raising a panic. Instead of crowing to greet the day, this chicken sounds more like it is complaining over and over again.

What other sounds does the morning air hold that I am not hearing?

American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, water, sounds, erosion, fisherman, river, morning, salmon
Fisherman sit beneath the Fair Oaks Bluffs and alongside trees uprooted during flooding early this year.

Three boats sit a few yards away on the east side of the bridge. The fishermen wait. Everyone prefers the east side. They are so intensely committed to catching fish, they arrive before dawn and wait for hours. I often see men in each boat talk to each other, swapping stories of who caught what and where, what bait they use and other conversation as they wait. Two more boats sit 100 yards farther east.

For a moment, the same tiny bird that greeted me each morning last fall with “too, too” returned to its post at the top of the bridge. Not intending to stay for long, it took a look around and flew away. The glowing yellow sun emerges in the eastern sky over the heads of trees lining the American River  No waterfowl are out yet this morning. Not even one. As I sit and listen in the still air, I hear a distant call of a Canada Goose, and then a quack and then silence. I wonder how far away are the geese?

After nearly a year of observation, I have a baseline of observing what happened each month. Yet, as the fifth year of drought concluded with heavy rain and flooding, I wonder what is usual and customary on the river? How will activity on the river change this coming fall? Will the waterfowl return? How many salmon will come? Will other wildlife return to feed on the salmon as they did last fall?

American River, trees, erosion, ducks, morning, Fair Oaks Bridge
One of several trees with exposed roots clinging to eroded riverbank.
chicken, ducks, erosion, morning, Fair Oaks Bridge
Scavenging the shallow water to find breakfast

Four ducks emerges from their evening hiding places and swim under the bridge heading west. They swim past fallen trees laying on the river bottom visible in the clear, shallow water. They pass trees with exposed roots along the eroded riverbank. These prominent features are a few of many ways flooding and erosion over time has shaped and scarred the integrity of this river channel.

The fisherman continue to sit and wait and I see nothing jumping in the water. The water is as still as it can be in this flat section of the American River. Birds are twittering unseen. I do my regular spider web check and see no evidence. I look for the fallen tree that was once an ideal sunbathing spot for turtles. It has fallen farther into the river. Where have the turtles gone? Another visitor to Fair Oaks Bridge remarked there were a dozen turtles or more. I saw only two. Now they have moved somewhere else.