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?”