Reflecting Clouds

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 730 am, 49 degrees

By the time I arrived at Fair Oaks Bridge this morning, the glorious orange and pinks of sunrise were already faded. I drove toward the sunrise enjoying its brilliant display by car instead. I listened to the “Fair Oaks Village symphony” informally conducted by at least a dozen chickens. Then I heard even more singing on the bridge.

Great Blue Heron, clouds, fishermen, fishing nets, American River, Fair Oaks Bridge, morning, writing, nature, outdoors, wildlife
Great Blue Heron walks at boat launch ramp

I gazed into the American River and saw small white patches of clouds reflected from above. Seven Canada Geese flew over the bridge against a backdrop of fluffy white clouds.

Fishermen were in their places, fishing nets hanging off the side of their boats and kayaks. I watched a Great Blue Heron at the boat launch ramp take a careful stroll along the riverbank until it disappeared under the bridge. Its soft blue and gray coloring blended into the landscape from a distance. Staying focused on this majestic bird took constant concentration.

The Wonder of Clouds

Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2017  9 am

As I gaze into the sky today standing on the bridge, I wonder about the clouds, their constant motion and beautiful palettes of color. Clouds continue to fascinate me. How exactly do they move and change shape?

Are clouds held in the sky by currents of air in the same way an airplane flies?

clouds, Fair Oaks Bridge, Fair Oaks, morning, American River, sky, nimbus, cumulus, stratusWhat is the air temperature inside a cloud? I have often heard, “Cloudy skies today, so our air temperature is low.” Or, “The clouds held in the heat overnight to keep away the frost.” Are clouds one of nature’s mysteries?

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In person, those hints of color at the center reflected the full spectrum of light.

I stand in awe at how the shape and density of clouds create the brilliant colored lights and shadows of sunrise. The golden glows of deep orange, and varying shades of pinks and grays filter the sunlight. I have seen long strips of clouds and barely visible wisps. They look like unraveled skeins of yarn, finely woven baskets, and rounded puffs reminding me of spun cotton or cotton candy.

Each cloud formation changes every minute. Everyday brings a new landscape and new shapes in the sky. We see rainbows after a rain storm. We can find animals, dragons, giants and scenes playing in the sky.

Each cloud formation changes every minute. Everyday brings a new landscape and new shapes in the sky. We see rainbows after a rain storm. and can find animals, dragons, giants and scenes featured in the sky. What about the days when there are no clouds in the morning and by evening the sky is covered by a heavy blanket of white?

 How do we know if clouds move as the earth moves, stay in one place or move on their own at the mercy of the winds?

clouds
Early moments of sunrise on Fair Oaks Bridge

Yesterday morning the ground was covered in mist. The sun never shined through the clouds until the evening. The sunset was a single strip of pink lasting five minutes and then faded into gray. Besides learning their different names – cumulus, nimbus, stratus – to describe a cloud’s characteristic shape, moisture content and elevation, what else can we learn about them?

 

 

A Reflecting Pool

Saturday, March 3, 2018, 710 am, 37 degrees

I enjoy this stunning reflection as I walk on Fair Oaks Bridge looking east to the sunrise – Fair Oaks Bluffs lay on the left side.

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Four Canada Geese honk loudly to greet me as they fly over Fair Oaks Bridge. They land with a splash still squawking on the west side. Two more come in and what a noise! Everyone is talking this morning. One lands on the concrete pillar supporting the bridge. I stand on the bridge deck and the goose stands on the pillar alongside. Mist flows from its beak as it continues to squawk and squawk for several minutes.

Canada Goose, mornings, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, wildlife, writing, nature, chill, whisper, honkWho is this goose calling to? What could it be saying? Finally, it quiets down and begins to whisper.

Sun emerges from the heavy cloud cover, shining in thin strips of yellow. Clouds reflect in the American River like a mirror as a thin layer of mist rolls slowly over the surface of the water. I feel the icy air of morning against my face.

Birds sing in chorus with the Canada Geese, honking once again. A single Bufflehead swims and dives in the middle of the river. It is a rare day when at least one Bufflehead is not swimming in the middle of the river diving for breakfast.

An Egret flies in, stands briefly on the boat launch ramp before flying across the river to roam the riverbank at the foot of the Fair Oaks Bluffs. A pair of Egrets fly in next and glide underneath the Fair Oaks Bridge.

Now, the morning is quiet. The sunlight casts shadows on the bridge. The reflections of clouds vanish. Several Buffleheads arrive and swim in the center of the river channel, creating a circular wake in the still, green water.

 

 

Finally Clouds!

Thursday, September 6, 2018 6:30 am , 57 degrees

Finally, morning clouds! Scattered wisps of clouds drape the sky in a panorama encircling Fair Oaks Bridge. The sky reminds me of an artist looking at the canvas and thinking, “This deep blue sky is too empty. It needs a few wisps here and there.”

mornings, clouds, Fair Oaks Bridge, American RiverWater is still, not even a ripple. A cool breeze blows across my face. With a moist chill in the air, I wear my denim jacket and blue jeans. Several groups of runners – from two to twenty – cross the bridge engaged in conversation. Single cyclists pass by. I hear honks from Canada Geese in the distance. Eight fly over in V formation and continue flying east. I hear one quack from a duck still hiding somewhere along the riverbank. I hear a bird sing its “calliope” song. A few pigeons sit on the truss frame and fly to shift positions. No boats today. No wildlife at play. 

Fallen leaves lay still in the water underneath the bridge. The water reflects a mirror image of the clouds and riverbanks on both sides. The river, usually a blend of greens and blues, is solidly blue this morning as it reflects clouds and the deep blue sky.

Mornings are quiet in recent weeks as one season folds into the next. The days of warm summer mornings are passing. Autumn chill is on its way. Leaves with the vibrant colors of deep orange, fiery red and mild yellows falling gracefully into the river is soon to follow.

Clouds Grace the Sky

Wednesday September 12, 2018 715 am 58 degrees

            As I walk down Bridge Street toward the Fair Oaks Bridge entrance, I see the resident rooster and mother hen standing in front of an entry gate at the end of a long driveway leading to an elaborate home on the hill. The rooster and the hen pace in front of the gate and look in as if they are waiting for the owner to come down, open the gate and welcome them in.

Bright sun casts dark shadows in the water. Sky above the bridge is graced with more clouds today. Sloping hillsides of Fair Oaks Bluff and clouds are reflected as mirrors in the clear, still water.

As I stand on the bridge, five Canada Geese arrive from the east in V formation, honking and honking and land without a splash in the river. Two geese fly farther and then circle around to land alongside the others. No spider webs on the bridge today. Usually a dozen webs cover the side rails. Today there are none. No fishermen are sitting in boats. They may be waiting for salmon to arrive. 

  clouds, Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, clouds, formations

I enjoy watching their movements and stand in awe of so many shapes: wisps, fans, woven baskets and blankets. Some cloud formations resemble spun sugar or cotton batting stretched so far that deep blue sky peeks though. White puffy clouds have covered the sky, moving with the winds and changing shape all week. With so much cloud cover this morning, all I see is clouds in every  direction.

The American River remains very quiet at Fair Oaks Bridge. Water level is low. Few waterfowl or birds are here. When they arrive, no one stays for long. Have not seen a Bufflehead diving in the middle of the river corridor since early this year. I miss the duck squabbles and persistent quacks. Few geese arrive and they don’t stay long. They too may be waiting for the salmon to arrive in a few weeks. Or maybe everyone is staying warm a little longer in their evening hiding places.

First Rain of Fall

Wednesday, October 3, 2018      730 am 64 degrees

clouds, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, mornings, rain, outdoors, nature, beauty, peace, Fair Oaks Bluff
Standing on Fair Oaks Bridge at sunrise. Facing east in view of the Fair Oaks Bluff on left side of photo.

            So many birds flying around Fair Oaks Bridge this morning! Far more than any other morning. Birds fly quickly from one part of the bridge truss frame to another – twittering and flapping wings. “Ti Too. Ti Too. Ti Too!” I am close enough to see the birds open their wings and see a white circle underneath each one. Dozens of pigeons fly over and leave as quickly as they come.

             Densely cloudy sky as if a heavy cotton blanket hangs on an invisible clothesline in the sky. Along the lower edge, a thick golden streak of light shines at the tree line. On the west side of the bridge, clouds reflect their deep pink and white shapes in the river below. Only two boats out today. One motored around the bend. Six ducks swim out from the riverbank. Birds continue to sound their calls reminding me of a distant siren

Fair Oaks Bridge, sunrise, mornings, American River, beauty, peace, clouds, rain, first rain, fall
Clouds reflect in the American River west of the bridge, looking toward the Sunrise Blvd. crossing a few hundred yards away.

       The air is still, and feels heavy, sticky and warm. The scent of damp ash carries through the air – the smell after a fire is put out with water.

      In the late afternoon, these clouds released our first rain of the season – a heavy and unexpected downpour.

Sunset in the Clouds

Thursday, January 3, 2019,  5 pm

Sunset looking from and at Fair Oaks Bridge. Spectacular view from any where you look. A display of pastels launched this evenings display of color. By this time of the evening, the wildlife had retreated for their evening. Fair Oaks Bridge and boat launch ramp were available for a private showing.

sunet, Fair Oaks Bridge, beauty, outdoors, nature, writing

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Palette of pastels launched the sunrise spectacle
Sunset looking through Fair Oaks Bridge

Cloud Candy in the Sky

February 2019

So many cloud formations grace the sky. Photos taken over several days in mid February.

I see ribbon candy and finely woven blankets in the sky. Other cloud formations create stunning backdrops for sunrises and beautiful days to enjoy the beauty of the American River.

 

Gratitude

Sunday, May 26, 2019  7 am

So many quiet mornings I see no wildlife flying in, swimming or diving. The river flows swiftly and deep. I need to look for other ways to tell the story of this beautiful place hidden away from busy urban spaces.

I feel grateful standing under partially cloudy skies and experiencing magnificent scenic views of the American River corridor even when the river seems empty. I see a brilliant ball of sunlight shining through clouds – and sometimes see no sun at all.

During many recent mornings, I have crossed Fair Oaks Bridge, walked the trail along the American River Parkway, and from Bannister Park to Jim’s Bridge (crossing the river farther east). My goal has been to experience the open space and the calm of the morning when few others are outside. I enjoy the cool wind against my face, the bird songs and the lonely roosters calling out to anyone who can hear.

At times when I have no words, I feel grateful. Voicing my gratitude for the beautiful spring day, warm weather and the beauty that surrounds me inspires the words to flow.

I feel grateful for the variety of trees in all their twisted shapes and sizes, sweet bird songs, green grasses and leaves. I feel grateful for the pale green moss that hugs tree trunks along the river trail. I notice weeds spreading everywhere boasting their own spiny purple flowers. I wonder when will the goats return to eat these weeds?

I walk on river rocks that line the trails – large, small, smooth round, jagged, curved and straight. I listen to the haunting call of a morning dove, the twitters and caws of other birds hidden in the trees that surround me. I enjoy the gentle curves and slopes of the dirt trail enclosed in greenery to create a walk with character, interest and a bit of mystery.

 

 

 

 

 

I stop to enjoy the abundant clusters of deep green leaves growing on mature oak trees. I marvel at the expansive oak tree canopy stretching its curving branches away from its central trunk as they reach for sunlight. I stand upon the edge of the trail and see deep pockets of green foliage set into a canyon.

I see trails crisscross leading deep into the parkway – some trails lead to the river, others to hidden concrete structures overgrown with ivy and often missed, secret picnic alcoves and islands where waterfowl rest and play. One day I found a small amphitheater long ago forgotten.

I feel grateful for patches of poppies yet to wake at dawn and the brightness of other wildflowers that live with them. I feel grateful to enjoy such beauty any morning, afternoon or evening I walk.