Saturday, October 28, 2017 720 am 52 degrees
When I arrive on the bridge, I see seven boats lined up on the American River (running from east to west). I find it curious the boats are always in a straight line on the eastern side of Fair Oaks Bridge. Boats always stay on the north side of the river. I am guessing the water level is deeper to support the boats. The south side where the boat launch ramp is located tends to be shallow almost half way out.
Two walkers pass. An older man calls out to me, “It is cheaper to buy salmon at the store than to go fishing in the cold. It is freezing out there on the water.” I turned and replied, “Then you miss the experience. You cannot buy the experience.”
I rarely have the opportunity to ask fishermen why they venture into the cold river before dawn to catch salmon. For devoted fishermen, catching a wild salmon, watching it jump and wriggle and try in vain to escape is the culmination of both joyful anticipation and planning. Some salmon get away. Their struggle to escape is stronger than the fishing line. At the final moment when the salmon is caught, skillful hands cannot hold on. The salmon wins the game to fight another day. Watching the sunrise, eating breakfast on portable grills on the boat are experiences no one can buy in a store.
I watch the fishermen as they find the best spot, cast their lines and share fish stories between boats. I come outside to experience the chill in morning air, listen for a distant, yet unseen “quack, quack, quack,” and honks from Canada Geese, the graceful flight of seagulls and their calls to each other from the river.
Even after visiting this bridge more than 100 times, I continue to marvel at the beauty of this place.
Arriving at Fair Oaks Bridge, I always do a spider web check. This morning I marvel at two empty spider webs. These webs are meticulously attached to the Truss frame of the bridge. I watch the ripples in the water as ducks swim past me. Next I watch a circle of pigeons flying above the bridge. Canada Geese swim under the bridge. An egret flies and lands on the boat launch ramp. Ducks are busy finding breakfast on the boat launch ramp and under the water. I remain in awe how various species of birds take flight and land, using their wings and feet in different, yet very precise ways. Many waterfowl gather to feed on salmon. I don’t smell the scent of their decaying bodies as much as I have in the past. Two dead salmon lay at the river bottom below the bridge.
I stand and watch a series of circles in the water created by Canada Geese who rise and flap their wings in the air for 20 yards before ever lifting out of the water and rise into the sky. I listen to the sound of a tiny bird, “Ti Too. Ti too.” These birds return regularly to rest on the overhead truss of the bridge.