I opened my front door to see the end of the brilliant pink strips of sunrise just before they faded to gray. By the time I reached Fair Oaks Bridge, bright white and scattered clouds showed no sign of the intense colors they held only moments before. The sun was already shining yellow over the horizon. Today the chilly air feels heavy with moisture.
Today is the final day of fishing in this part of the American River for the rest of the year. I saw so no one catch salmon and missed their leaps high enough out of the water to be seen. I missed seeing their struggles to set themselves free – seeing only a few random splashes instead.
Other bridge visitors told me that salmon were swimming out in the river, but more of them had already reached the weir at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. I will be looking for leaping salmon at “the narrows,” passage upriver in November during the heaviest part of the fall run.
I am surprised there is still no scent of decaying salmon. Nearly 100 seagulls gather and wait in the American River and on the sandbar a mile east of Fair Oaks Bridge. I watch and wonder when will the salmon show themselves?
The Great Blue Heron poses like a statue in the American River. It stood on the stub of a branch before I arrived and continued to pose and study the river long after I walked off Fair Oaks Bridge. Water is still. The sky pale blue and clear. Not a wisp of a cloud. A dozen ducks swim by, creating their own wake. Pigeons fly in dancing over the bridge and quickly depart.
I walk to the boat launch ramp and see the ducks gather at the end of the ramp, looking at me with curiosity. They are likely wondering, Do you have food for us? I have no food to share. I hear an unseen woodpecker softly drumming on a nearby tree.
This peaceful place is an escape from other crises of the day. As I stand here and enjoy its beauty, catastrophic wildfires consume other areas of California – places of peace, joy and beauty where people and wildlife have lived and loved for years.
All is quiet this morning. Boats are gone. Phoebe calls from the top of Fair Oaks Bridge. I finally identified the bird that greets me with Ti Too! Ti Too! I stand in the cool, moist air with no breeze. My hands are chilled. White clouds scatter across the sky reminding me of spilled milk. Clouds reflect in the American River. My camera’s eye sees the reflections more clearly than mine. Occasionally I hear a splash and look to see the concentric circles in the river – the sign of a salmon leap.
Where are the Buffleheads? I have yet to see even one swim through the center of the river channel, diving for breakfast.
A few ducks and a single Canada Goose swim downriver. Their wake extends half way across the river. Five Canada Geese fly silently overhead heading west. Then the Phoebe calls again. It is the only sound this morning besides the hum of Sunrise Blvd. traffic about half mile to the west.