So Much Water!

Saturday, February 25, 2017   630 am, 46 degrees

As I walk through Fair Oaks Village streets on my way to the Fair Oaks Bridge, I hear the chickens’ good morning songs. It feels as if I am the single float in a parade and the chickens are the crowd along the streets cheering for me along the route. I hear their chants 50 yards away, hidden in trees. I leave my car and was startled to hear from a chicken standing alongside a bush a few feet to my left.

water, sunrise, American River, Folsom Dam, morning, Fair Oaks Bridge
Sun shines through clouds before 7 am

Dawn has broken, the sun has yet to rise over distant trees in this heavily clouded sky of deep blues and grays. Thankfully, no rain today!!! I hear the little bird that used to greet me on the bridge each morning hidden in a tree as I walk past.

A single cyclist greets me as I walk toward the bridge. No one else has arrived yet. The American River still flooded and moving swiftly. Release of water from the Folsom Dam created a river that was a raging torrent, so flooded that the boat launch ramp and the parking lot beyond were under five feet of water only two weeks ago. All that I could see was water, muddy, green water, whirlpools and white caps racing downstream with such speed, I was dizzy watching it. The bicycle/pedestrian bridge west of the Sunrise Blvd. bridge crossing vanished without a trace under several feet of water. Today, the bridge is still closed and I suspect will remain so for several more weeks. Water sits only a foot below the lowest edge.

Canada Geese, boat launch ramp, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, water, mud, flood, water
Canada Geese footprints in the mud near end of boat launch ramp

Joyful to see two honking geese arrive this morning. They are the first out. No gulls, no pigeons, no birds and not a single duck. They all have found other places to play and eat during this flooded days of winter. Two geese walk alone on the boat launch ramp. Its end covered in mud and geese prints. Three more geese arrive and land in the water.

Levees have broken. Rivers and reservoirs are overflowing and spilling out into communities in far too many places. Watching the American River flow under the Fair Oaks Bridge is one small indicator of the consequences of too much water, too fast. The flowing, foamy water of the American River rumbles underneath in strict determination to reach a downstream destination as quickly as possible. Riverbanks here are even more steeply eroded than they were before. Animal homes are long washed away. A yellow traffic sign hides in bushes along the bank. As water continues, the sign is pushed ever further into the bank. I can only read the words, “End.” The sign in its place may have meant end of the trail. Now, the sign sits at the end of its own journey held fast in bushes along the riverbank.

Canada Goose, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge
Looking for a friend

Canada Geese are the only ones playing in and watching the river today. We are the only ones so far enjoying this marvelous sun as it shines its warmth on the bridge.

Many days since I visited the Fair Oaks Bridge – either frigid cold, too much rain, sickness and early work hours kept me away. Today I stand and enjoy this morning wonder – my ritual morning wakeup. Today, the first morning of this year, no longer so new, I remember the joy of waking up with the wildlife on the river. The Canada Geese are good company.

The sun fully risen, is now buried in the clouds. As the morning progresses, more people arrive. Couples walking their dogs, cyclists, walkers dressed in warm jackets and leggings. A chilly wind blows against my face. My hands are chilled from the cold.

I walk across the bridge and down to the boat launch ramp to stand with a single Canada Goose calling out. I wonder if he is looking for some one to join him for breakfast. The geese have left muddy footprints on the ramp. On my back up the bike trail to the bridge, I spy a coyote farther down the trail. He sees me and quickly trots away to hide in the green hills. No pigeons, no ducks, no gulls, no egret, no twittering birds arrived this morning. All have gone elsewhere to play and find food, away from this “bit of heaven” on Fair Oaks Bridge.