After leaving Fair Oaks Bridge Wednesday morning, I stopped to watch this very determined mother hen find food. Her chicks watch with great interest. Listen closely to their high pitched “peeps.” Eventually she and her chicks moved up the hill into the shrubs, not finding anything to eat after so much effort. Fair Oaks chickens wander the village, parks, side streets and fly into trees on both sides of the river. Their morning song carries through the air beginning long before I arrive at 630 am.
The Next Day Mother Hen Sits
After giving away all the bread, my daughter and I leave the boat launch ramp and cross the bridge to return home. I show her the place where the mother hen was searching the day before. We see her on the other side of the street sitting quietly in the dirt. We stand and watch several minutes wondering Why is she so still, not making a sound. Is she injured? When will she move? Then she spreads her feathers and rises up. We see four baby chicks run out from underneath and follow their mother as she climbs up the side of the hill.
“She was keeping her babies warm! Being a good mom!”
Thick fog wraps everything with a soft, white, layer of chilled air and moisture.
The American River is barely visible standing on Fair Oaks Bridge. Shoreline on both the east and west sides have disappeared. Dew attached to spider webs sparkles like jewels. Sounds are muffled in thick fog. The bridge drips with moisture. A single runner emerges through the fog and crosses the bridge.
I wonder why there are always more spider webs on the east side of the bridge then the west? The position of the sun, direction of the wind or that spiders favor the east side for another reason? I photograph a dozen webs – these miracles of geometry illuminated by drops of dew clinging to the strands.
The resident chickens on Bridge Street are out early scavenging for food. One pearly white seagull flies gracefully over the bridge. More gulls call out and cross an invisible river. One hour later, the intensity of the fog decreased by least half. A heavy mist continues to bathe the river and landscape until after noon.
Have you ever seen a chicken that looks like this one?
I found this one scratching at the dirt looking for breakfast during one of my morning walks to Fair Oaks Bridge.
Three days later. . .
I returned to Fair Oaks Bridge and saw a river otter enjoying a morning swim.
Later that morning … I saw three turtles had found a fallen log at the riverbank just beneath the bridge to enjoy morning meditation in the sun.
And the next day...
Mama duck and her six new ducklings out for a swim. They were surrounded by a dozen Canada Geese aggressively searching for food. She led them carefully – as they peeped and followed in a line – to a safer hiding spot in the middle of nearby reeds.
A few minutes walk from Fair Oaks Village down Bridge Street – The American River and Fair Oaks Bridge crossing feature abundant opportunities to enjoy incredible scenic views and diverse wildlife. Great walks and bicycle rides for miles in either direction.
During this exceptionally quiet morning, the most whimsical sight is the resident chicken of Bridge Street illegally parked.
Cloudy, light breeze, air is heavy with moisture. A chilly morning. Roosters are on patrol at Fair Oaks Village calling good morning. A few cyclists pass by as I stand on the bridge. A handful of walkers also out early. Rivers moves slowly downstream with very few ripples. Two Canada Geese wander the riverbank searching for breakfast.
I hear the chorus of birds singing in nearby trees. Dozens of them circle around and under the bridge. Down at the boat launch ramp, the lonely rooster calls. He sees me coming and quickly catches up to where I am walking. A single duck quacks in the distance. No other wildlife have emerged from nighttime hiding places yet.