February 16, 2018, 7 am, 36 degrees
I enjoy many early morning experiences on Fair Oaks Bridge, the boat launch ramp and areas nearby along the American River Parkway this month. My backpack, journal and camera are constant companions.
Sometimes I don’t have words to express the joy and delight of these experiences. The beauty of these quiet mornings is a far deeper experience than that act of writing words on a page or taking photos can express. I sit and listen. I watch and wonder.
“These beautiful days must enrich all my life. They do not exist as mere pictures. . . but they saturate themselves into every part of the body and live always.” John Muir
My mornings usually begin with greetings from Fair Oaks Village chickens – some still hiding in bushes or trees. Others roam the streets of the neighborhood on a search for breakfast. As I approach Fair Oaks Bridge, I wonder what colors will be painted across the sky today when clouds reflect the sunrise – shades of pink, fiery orange or gold? Will I see a curtain or a blanket of fog reflecting the colored sunlight that rolls slowly downriver?
I listen for the daily quacks this determined duck as she patrols the American River. She is relentless; quacking for 10 minutes and hardly stopping long enough to take a breath. I can hear her voice far off in the distance as she swims away. I listen for the calls of seagulls and watch them soar high above me. Birds sing unseen in trees – a calliope, a whistle, and other chirps and calls I cannot describe. I often hear the chortle of the Great Blue Heron and honk of Canada Geese long before I see them. The Egret and Great Blue Heron always position themselves at different locations on the riverbank – staying far away from each other.
I see soft ripples widen in the water as the ducks and Canada Geese swim through the quiet river. I watch the graceful flights of snow white Egrets as they extend their long, soft wings and glide under Fair Oaks Bridge. Buffleheads dive in the center of the river channel and rise to the surface many yards away.
Photographs and written narratives record memories of these magical experiences – and create an understanding that wildlife undisturbed live by their own rhythms as we silently watch and wonder.