In the Quiet Smoky Haze

Friday November 16, 2018, 730 am, 40 degrees

mornings, frost, ice, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, water, nature, outdoors, writing, smoke, haze
Layer of frost covers the deck, soon melted by warm sunlight.

Quiet river. Smoky haze. Gray sky features a hint of blue. Chilly air. 

Chickens roam Bridge Street searching for breakfast. One lone gull swims through the river, calling out to anyone to hear. So far, the gull is the only sign of wildlife this morning. A few walkers leave Fair Oaks Bridge as I walk. No one else approaches. No cyclists this morning. I walk the deck of the bridge and see no spider webs. As I walk farther across the deck, I see it coated with frost, thick enough to be slippery and marked with footprints. As I stand and write my observations, the frost is already disappearing.

I walk to the boat launch ramp where three ducks are gathered. Within a minute, two more fly in. Then two more arrive, and then four more. All of them swimming alongside the boat ramp dunking, washing, stretching and searching for breakfast. These ducks live here all year round. The Muscovy duck arrived at least a year ago and stays with the group.

mornings, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, water, nature, writing, outdoors, seagull. smoke, chill,
A lonely seagull calls out for a friend to join. No one answers and it flies away.

Standing on the boat ramp, it seems that the sky has cleared, I see a deep blue sky. From another vantage point, looking around the bend in the river, the smoky haze sits above the water.

The lone seagull stretches its neck one more time and calls out. No gull answers. I imagine it calling, “No one else is here. There is no food. I am leaving.” The gull flies west and vanishes.

Minutes later, flying in from the east, another gull appears to join the ducks. It lands in the water, then flies to circles the river channel, calls out and lands again.

Buffleheads, Fair Oaks Bridge, chill, smoke, American River,morning,
First sighting this season of these new arrivals

Looking into the center of the river channel, I saw for the first time this season, small black ducks. Are they Buffleheads? They do not have the same characteristic white spot. They swim in groups of two, diving in the water and reappearing 20 yards away, over and again. All at once, eight of them fly over the river and land nearby Fair Oaks Bridge. A minute later, the ducks rise up and fly back to where they were. From a distance, I hear one Quack, Quack.

The water calm. No other walkers or cyclists, no boaters and few wildlife. I do not see dead salmon laying in the river or near the riverbank, and still wonder where are they?