Friday, December 1, 2017, 7 am 39 degrees
As we move closer to winter, morning temperatures are low enough each day to bring a heavy layer of fog into our neighborhoods and watch the mist as it rolls across the American River.
Yet, the boat launch ramp and the riverbanks are clear today. A single seagull circles the bridge and flies west. The salmon run is nearly over and soon all the seagulls will be leaving for the season.
I will miss the morning calls of seagulls and the joy of watching them circle slowly and gracefully over the American River.
My fingers are chilled from the breeze. I wear gloves and a heavy jacket to stay warm on this frigid morning! Ripples in the river trace where ducks swim through the center of the channel. Low laying fog rolls slowly along the river, moving underneath Fair Oaks Bridge. Fog continues to roll under the bridge as if they were billows of steam rising and falling in a huge simmering pot.
On one October day when visiting wildlife at the boat launch ramp, a fisherman who was preparing to drive away with his boat saw me walking towards him. He paused long enough to call out from inside his vehicle, “The best things in life are those that you do slowly.” I smiled back and thanked him. How else can we truly be “in the moment of experience”?
His words keep coming back to me during the past few weeks. Setting aside dancing and running, I cannot think of anything else I want to do in fast motion. Pausing to observe morning wildlife rituals, their focused efforts to search for a meal, seeing how they relate to their own kind and other wildlife, and the waiting game to catch a single fish needs time and patience.
I am amazed to see resident ducks and Canada Geese come out from their evening hiding places to swim in the river, even in the coolest, wettest weather. They seem to talk less in colder temperatures. Today, as every morning, I hear a soft quack of at least one duck, swimming out in the unseen distance. One swims alone, dunking for breakfast and speaks to no one when it comes back up. (See video below) Fair Oaks Bridge rumbles as a dozen cyclists race across the bridge on their way uphill to Fair Oaks Village.
Two walkers stroll by and ask, “How is your journaling going?” We have met several times on the bridge. Depending on the day, I meet the same walkers and the same cyclists. Walking down to the boat launch ramp, resident waterfowl come to greet me – especially if they think I might have a quick snack.
The Egret stands in its usual place on the north side of the river away from all other wildlife, to enjoy morning breakfast without company or interruption. When the Great Blue Heron shows up 10 yards downstream, the Egret flies away to escape the intruder. As the sun rises well above the horizon, the magic of morning at Fair Oaks Bridge lingers on for a few precious moments longer.