Thursday, December 28, 2017, 820 am, 39 degrees
Winter is the time to experience quiet on the American River. Calm waters. No fishing allowed. River is too cold for rafting or swimming. The wildlife enjoy this serene setting all too themselves all day long.
Regardless of season, Fair Oaks Bridge attracts walkers, cyclists and visitors to enjoy the scenic views by foot and by car all day long. On colder days, people take a little longer to arrive. I meet so many different people on the bridge. Cyclists are always in a hurry. Joggers are out for exercise. Walkers and those with dogs are usually open to exchanging “good mornings.”
I shared experiences with a woman who has lived on the Fair Oaks Bluffs for decades. We talked what we love about the bridge, the spectacular views, the community, gardening and wildlife. She greets two friends out for a jog and we talk about the uniqueness of Fair Oaks Village.
The sky gives no hint of either the glowing orange ribbons that painted the sky or the dense fog that rolled across the river only an hour ago. Yet it is still cold enough to see my breath. Two Goldeneyes diving for breakfast are the only wildlife out this morning. Pigeons settle on the bridge truss for their morning rest. I watch several seagull pairs fly over the bridge at a very high elevation, ready for another migratory journey. Other pairs circle the bridge with wide, sweeping elegance before settling down into the water or to wander the boat launch ramp for a quick snack. Steelhead will be arriving soon. They bring far less excitement and food supply than the fall run of salmon.
Arriving at the boat launch ramp, a dozen ducks and a crowd of pigeons rush in. They expect a breakfast gift to be served. One Mallard shouted a series of angry “Quack, quack, quack,” at me to complain I came empty handed once again. Once the ducks got over their disappointment, they paired up and began their mating rituals. I watched as some ducks swam out into the river, bob their heads up and down in unison to signal their readiness to create spring ducklings.
Gulls continue their swim in the river and call out to one another from the boat ramp and at a distance unseen. I always wonder what each gull could be saying.