River is usually quiet this time of year. Resident ducks and Canada geese fly in. I saw a cormorant fly twice over the water. I always look for spider webs – so many, with lots of captured flies.
The sun glitters like stars reflecting in the water. The reflection moves with me as I walk across the bridge.
Sometimes I see turtles sitting in a log that lies alongside the bridge. Today I saw three of them. One at a time they climbed out of the water on the log to sunbathe. I point them to walkers on the bridge. A Sacramento County Sheriff officer wandered over. He thought since three of us are looking over the side of the bridge, something must have happened. I told him we are looking at the turtles underneath the bridge on the log. After being assured everything was okay, he walked away.
Once I venture on the paved bike trail or even the dirt trails alongside the river, it is so peaceful and beautiful. It is easy to forget the setting is surrounded by suburban development. This could be anywhere. The only clue is the homes sitting on the edge of or near Fair Oaks Bluff. No sound today except for the rushing water. I see some soft ripples where the depth of the water changes. Water is so shallow here, visitors walk to the center and it is only waist high. A gentle breeze blows across my face.
I stand at the boat launch ramp watching the geese clean themselves as their morning ritual. They twist their necks in all directions. I leave home and often forget to bring them food.
A family of four (two parents and two young boys) walked down the ramp. The older boy was scared of the geese. A dozen of them were scouring the boat launch ramp looking for tidbits to eat. The boy refused to walk down the ramp to pose with his brother – to avoid standing too close to the geese. I said the geese are not to be afraid of. I am here all the time. Kneel or sit down and they think you are not here. They are not afraid. Being them food and they will love you forever. Parents thanked me as they left with their family photos.
I meet a lot of people. Some watch the scene, others read. Others walk by and some cyclists ride as if they were on a marathon. Several men are standing in the river fishing. I saw one fly fishing. He cast his line way out and it landed. Then he cast his line way out again before pulling it out again.
Fair Oaks Bridge and the American River that surrounds it, means so many different things to its visitors.
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.
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.
Light breeze, warm sun. I watch a line of Canada Geese swim slowly and quietly across the American River. Leaves fallen from trees on the riverbank float in the water. Other leaves flutter through the air and land softly on the deck of Fair Oaks Bridge.
A man in a kayak floats under the bridge from the west. A boat launches from the ramp on the east side of the bridge. Not a cloud anywhere.
This morning I joined the Walking Sticks for a short walk to the bridge. They crossed Fair Oaks Bridge and kept on walking. I stopped to enjoy the peaceful moments of this beautiful morning on the river. The water glistens with silver tips. I watch the sparkling patterns on the water change as it moves under the bridge. I hear birds twitter in the trees nearby. Then the hoot of an owl…or is it a Morning Dove greeting the new day?
I am surprised to see even the cyclists are moving slowly.
As I enter Fair Oaks Village this morning, I stop the car to wait for a chicken to cross the street and join a friend in the center median.Chickens are calling from all parts of the Village. I see them in parking lots, on streets and hiding near bushes.
A cool morning wind feels refreshing after a long and hot day. Glowing, hot yellow sun and a brilliant blue sky. No clouds anywhere.
I see a kayak launch into the water and watch the driver inside pressing foot pedals to move his craft around the river. The boat is filled with three people, a large bucket and other fishing equipment. Fishermen in their boats take positions in the American River for a morning of fishing.
Water level of the river continues to be slightly higher than a week ago. The river channel is relatively flat at Fair Oaks Bridge, so the water remains calm. A pair of ducks fly in and land with a splash out of sight under the bridge. Joggers and walkers pass – alone and in pairs. No one pauses to look over either side of Fair Oaks Bridge to enjoy the scenic views.
A tiny bird greets me with its good morning song. “Ti Too! Ti Too!” as it stands at the top of the bridge truss looking down at me. I see no Buffleheads swimming and searching for breakfast. I can’t remember when I saw them last. When did they leave?
A dozen spider webs stretch across the bridge rails ranging in size from 9” across to a more compact 2”.
I rarely see spider webs hanging on the west side of Fair Oaks Bridge. Why do spiders spin their webs on the east side of the bridge and not the west?
Could web placement be related to the sun’s position in the sky? Is web construction related to where the shadows fall or the temperature of a specific place? Do insects prefer to fly about on the east side and not the west?
A loud fog horn blows. Long, loud and mysterious. What is that sound? Where does it come from? Few ducks are swimming. I wonder about the female Mallard who I heard quack relentlessly every visit in January and February. Where is she? Did she have ducklings?How can I even recognize her if she swims by me?
Happy Anniversary! “Mornings on Fair Oaks Bridge” blog is two years old.
Taking photos and writing observations about my morning visits to Fair Oaks Bridge began as a fun way to capture my experience. It was several weeks later before I thought of posting them as blogs. Two years later, I am still posting my observations, enjoying regular visits, and a full color book featuring a selection of first person narratives and photography is ready to print.
During that September as today, fishermen are sitting in their boats waiting for salmon. Although it is very early in the season, 11 boats line the American River all the way around the bend. When I asked one of the fishermen in a boat close to the bridge, if salmon were in the river, he said, “A few.” Anxious fishermen face a lot of competition to catch a few fish. River level remains low.
Arriving long after sunrise, the blinding yellow sun is sitting just above the trees behind the boat launch ramp (outside the photo on right). A few thin strips of white clouds do nothing to hide the sun’s harsh light. A slight breeze blows against my skin. What I notice immediately is thousands of tiny insects swarming on the outside of the bridge side rails. Their swarm stretches at least one-third the length of the bridge. Floating through the air, they look like tiny feathers released from a pillow or quilt and being shaken into the air.
I see “The Wild Man” still lies where he fell after being knocked over by the floodwaters in early 2017.
I walk down to the boat launch ramp in time to see one duck splashing itself with water, other engaging in regular morning ritual of cleaning feathers. Two others stand on rocks and watch. Looking across the river, I see an Egret on the opposite riverbank in its usual spot. About 50 yards to the west sits the Great Blue Heron. They always do their best to avoid each other. As I watch the Heron, I see a squirrel behind it, dash up a small hill on the Fair Oaks Bluff. Squirrels are one animal I never see on the riverbanks.
When I cross Fair Oaks Bridge much later in the morning, more people are out walking, with their dogs and others are cycling. A tiny bird is singing good morning. Ti Too! Ti Too! Four pigeons tuck their heads under one wing as they perch on the highest cross beam of the bridge.
Fourteen fishing boats line the American River near the Fair Oaks Bridge. Twelve boats extend all the way around the river bend. The other two sit on the west side of the bridge. The deep green water is so still, there is hardly a ripple. In this cloudless deep blue sky, the sun glows like a brilliant yellow ball. I smell a faint, yet pungent odor.
So many fishermen and I have not seen any salmon jumping yet. Only two more weeks before fishing is banned until the end of the year. Have the salmon arrived yet? I see one small fish floating next to the boat launch ramp this morning.
Birds are busy greeting the morning from their station at the highest point of the bridge. “Ti Too! Ti Too!” From another direction, I hear a bird singing like a calliope in short, shrill bursts. I hear only one duck quack yet this morning. Where is everyone?
A dozen ducks were busy with their morning rituals in the river alongside the boat ramp. One was splashing itself to take a bath, another bobbing for breakfast. The others gathered in a morning meeting to quack, confer and squabble. “Where to eat?” I imagined them asking. A single seagull landed in the water alongside the Mallard. The gull looked frustrated “So where is the food hiding this year?”
The boat launch ramp nearby Fair Oaks Bridge has its own stories. Featured below are photos taken before and after the rain. Together they reveal a small part of the stories of this place.
This is where visitors feed ducks and I watch them play, dunk, wash and search for bits of food. Fishermen launch their fishing boats here and others climb into their rafts for a ride on the river. I often see people come to sit on the bench, or park their car to watch and enjoy this peaceful setting. This is the ideal vantage point for all my bridge photos.
I often mention this ramp in blog posts because it is the site for so much activity watching ducks, Canada Geese and seagulls. They search for food, they argue, they shout and listen for others to join them.
Flooded boat launch photo taken from Fair Oaks Bridge in between rainstorms after large releases of water rushed down the American River. Two other photos shown were taken in early February.
This morning – our first day of Spring – a gentle mist falls on Fair Oaks Bridge. Clouds glow bright white on the east side where pockets of sunlight shine through.
Birds twitter and rattle. I hear a sound that reminds of the whistle of a circus calliope. Air feels warm through the mist. I wonder why when I look closely at the river near the bend and it sparkles blue, yet the river near the bridge looks green.
Two Canada Geese honk loudly as they fly in from the west and cross the Sunrise Blvd. Bridge. These two geese are so loud, they almost drown out the roar of traffic. They fly in low over the bridge, still honking all the way as they continue past the boat launch ramp. Then both of them make a U-turn and split up – still honking.
One goose flies to the riverbank under the bridge. The other flies toward the bridge to land softly on the concrete support pier inches from where I stand on the deck. Standing quietly, the goose surveys the river from its perch and begins morning preening rituals. Minutes later, it shouts to its partner and they continue to hold a conversation from the pier to the riverbank. I am wondering did they take different positions to more effectively scout the river for breakfast?
One fisherman launches his boat and speeds up river. Runners pass me on the bridge. Groups of walkers enjoy the early morning air. The goose on the pier whispers and continues watching the river. Are they looking for the last Steelhead to swim upriver to spawn? As the steelhead run comes to a close, fishermen take their places on the American River waiting. A dozen fishermen were standing on the riverbank at dusk last night. Several others stood hip high in the river. One fish leaped out of the water. I saw no one catching any.
Walking off the bridge and on to Bridge Street, I notice the street covered with red-orange leaves laying flat on the pavement. I wonder where they came from? How did they stay on the trees throughout the winds and rain of fall and winter – to finally touch ground on the first day of Spring?
Two roosters call to greet me at Bridge Street on my way to Fair Oaks Bridge. Fishermen sit patiently in their boats out in the river. A feeling of peace and calm washes over me as the cool, gentle wind crosses my face. Birds call softly to greet the new day.
So many spider webs line the bridge this morning. I stopped counting at 12. Maybe more than two dozen webs stretched all the way across the rails on the west side of the bridge. They range in size from two inches to eight, all woven into perfect intersecting lines. The sun is a glowing yellow ball of fire hanging in an empty pale blue sky. Runners, walkers and cyclists pass by. No one stops. No one looks side to side.
They all miss the intricate spider webs – graveyards for hundreds of flies hanging in storage for future meals. With so many flies lining the entire span of the bridge, I wonder if catching so many flies is for the sport or the need to eat.
Today I look over the side of the bridge that is closer to the bicycle trail near the riverbank and see a fallen log lying on the river bottom. The tree uprooted during the early 20017 flooding and lays in the same spot as if held captive there to rest. I suspect that many visitors have long forgotten the destruction caused by the flooding when Folsom Dam released heavy water flows down the river. The river still holds memories of that turbulent time.
Visitors crowded the bridge during those weeks of heavy flows to see water swirl in a dizzying frenzy under Fair Oaks Bridge, Sunrise Blvd. and submerging Jim’s Bridge farther west.
Scanning the riverbanks, I can still see trees bent over and debris and tangled bushes lying on the landscape. Animal homes along the banks may still be flooded.
The American River continues to hold its own stories for anyone to discover.