Monday, October 3, 2016, 6 pm, 70 degrees
The sky is covered with what looks like strips of pale blue and white cotton candy. At 6 pm, no sun to be found. The air feels cool and I wear my zip up hooded sweatshirt.
No birds are out. A few ducks are out for a leisurely swim. I hear splashes in the water and look to the sound and see rings of concentric circles. Must have been a salmon jumped out and dove back in quickly. Since my last visit I see that rain has fallen on the bridge. The intricate networks of spider webs and flytraps are washed clean away off the bridge upright and cross beams. Not a trace is left. The air is heavy with the scent of moist dirt, yet clean and refreshed by gentle rain.
Two boats and a kayak sit in the water. A few cyclists pass and some walkers out for a evening stretch before sunset. I walk to the boat launch ramp and the ducks see me coming. Today I have no bread to throw.
A dozen ducks gather and walk up the ramp and wait. They look at me impatiently as if to say, “Where is the food?”
After a few minutes when they realize no food is coming, they all retreat back into the water. In minutes some have disappeared to hiding places on either side of the ramp. The dabblers decide to find food on their own.
Watching the wind blow the clouds, I notice them spreading apart and changing color. A pale pink streak stretches wider across the eastern sky. Looking to the west, the sky is still blanked with gray, puffy clouds.
Today, the life at the bridge is very quiet. All I hear is the constant hum of traffic from the Sunrise Blvd. bridge. Walkers come to stand and watch the wildlife and the changing colors of the sky.
I wonder about the picture painted on the bridge. A sailor saluting? What is the story behind this picture?
I wonder if ducks have a nighttime ritual? Human parents are giving baths and reading bedtime stories. Children are tucked into soft beds and fall asleep. What do ducks do to prepare for nighttime? I can imagine what the chickens do because every morning they are all crowing from trees, completely hidden from view until it is warm enough to fly down into the park and village streets.
Darkness will arrive within the hour. The pinks in the clouds have all faded to gray. The moment the sun has set below the horizon, the sky already seems a shade darker. As I walk up the boat ramp to leave and walk back to the bridge, the ducks begin a wild chorus from ducks swimming toward me in the river. I am certain they are scolding me with their quacks, “Be sure you bring food next time!”
I love watching the sunset at the bridge because reflected shadows change with the light. Most of the day the reflections are like mirrors. By nightfall, the shadows change. The edges of the trees and all the plants on either side of the bridge seem to become extra sharp and clear as the sun begins to set. It is as if their outlines became more into focus with a subtle touch of darkness. When the sun drops behind the horizon, the reflections immediately darken into blurred shadows.
I have learned from how much time will pass before the sun rises over the trees across the shore from the Fair Oaks Bridge. I look at the placement of the sun to see when it is time to return home from a bike ride at dusk. I feel a chill in the air the moment the sun drops below the horizon and have about 30 minutes before darkness.
As I stand and watch the day fade into darkness, a dog standing alongside his owner near me on the bridge barks at a distant white object perched on the bluffs. It answers back and the dog barks again. This call and response repeats several times until the dog tires of the conversation and gives up and we all leave the bridge.