A Wild Day at the American River

Sunday, April 30, 2017 9:30 am

Water is flowing fast and flooding the sandy banks, rocks and other land forms where people usually sit and picnic.
American River
This part of the river is called San Juan Rapids because this area is very rocky and usually fairly shallow. Water is always moving swiftly here. Today, far faster and deeper than any other time.

During the summer I can sit on a rock and dangle my feet into shallow water to cool off. More water will come as melted snow rushes down navigates through the Sierra Nevada mountains into the American River.

To my far left, I catch a quick glance at a family of Canada Geese emerging from the rocks and walking into a quiet, shallow area between rocks for a swim. Nine tiny goslings and their parents. My first sighting of babies this year! On my ride back home, I see a skinny little snake about 12” long in the middle of the bike path. I dragged it to the dirt and the back half of its body wriggled and curved. The top half was still. I think it was near death. I let it lay in peace.Read more

Daily Rituals at Fair Oaks Bridge

Thursday May 25, 2017 7 am 57 degrees

Walking through Fair Oaks Village today, all the chickens are silent except for one.

One solo chicken hides in a tree on my way to the Fair Oaks Bridge. It calls every five seconds, over and over and over again. I hear its faint call from the bridge some 100 yards away.

Where is everyone?” “I am awake!”

Dense clouds float above my head. It is a chilly and windy morning. I have already seen half dozen cyclists and several walkers. A lone boater was in the water and more preparing to enter the river. The water is calm. Pigeons coo as they straddle the upper bridge frame. Parts of the bridge are covered in spider webs blown apart by winds.

Even after 20 minutes of standing on the bridge, I still hear the chickens calling and the music of  birds singing while hidden in nearby trees. Three ducks play in the water at the end of the boat ramp. I hear the distant honk of a single Canada Goose and see it fly under the bridge and continue its west facing flight. Pigeons are the only ones flying this morning. I watch a new family of Canada geese swim over to the riverbank, climb up and disappear into the shrubbery. The rocks are laid bare after the severe flooding washed away so many hiding places.Read more

Webs, Wildlife and Wonder

Wednesday, August 2, 825 am 78 degrees

destinaton, chickens, Fair Oaks Village, Fair Oaks Bridge, morning
Morning stroll in Fair Oaks Village

Walking from the Fair Oaks Clubhouse, I hear chickens call their good morning song. Met a photographer on my way to Fair Oaks Bridge taking photos of bunnies hiding under bushes. We think someone left them here to live in the wild, instead of a home.

Two ducks swim in the American River to the boat launch ramp. A group of a dozen young women out for a morning run. A lone boater casts his line. Walkers stroll by. The water under the bridge is so clear, I can see the stones lining the river bottom.

As soon as I arrive at the bridge, a cyclist begins chatting on his phone with a friend about politics. Speaking loudly, pacing back and forth, I begin my daily observations and try to ignore him. Other people walk on the bridge and cross without stopping to look at the view. They remain engaged in conversation. Occasionally I point out intricate spider webs to people who say, “Good morning.” A group of three women walk past me and admire my colorful socks.Read more

How Much Can 1,000 Goats Eat?

Friday, July 27, 2018   930 am, 75 degrees

goats, Fair Oaks Bridge, Bannister Park, American RiverMore than 1,000 goats crowd a field overrun with dry weeds and grass alongside the access road to the American River Parkway near Jim’s Bridge. Sacramento County employees brought 1,000 goats in trailers. Men are busy installing the wired fence enclosure as I pass by. Goats will munch on weeds for the next 10 days. Today they look bewildered. “What are we doing here?” Most of them have not started eating yet.

 

rafts, American River, Bannister Park, Fair Oaks, water, play, fun, recreationWhen I arrive minutes later at Jim’s Bridge, nearly 100 rafters are waiting. Their rafts ready to launch for a day of fun on the river and shooting water cannons.

rafts, American River, water, fun, play, summer, Fair Oaks, Jim's Bridge

 

 

 

 

Six Canada Geese are gathered near the boat ramp by Fair Oaks Bridge for a morning meeting. Shortly after I arrive, they rise out of the water and fly away.  I will watch to identify their movements next time I stand closer and discover how they lift themselves out of the water and take flight.

John Muir Reflections on the Outdoors

Muir Woods, John Muir, Redwoods, forest, beauty, peace, good tidings, quotations“Everyone needs beauty as well as bread; places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

 

“Camp out among the grass and gentians of glacier meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountain and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flowers into trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

Going Into the Woods Inspires a Child’s Imagination

fairies, imagination, outdoor world, nature,
Imagining another world

Going into the woods is more than random play. The woods are the child’s work to create imaginary experiences and understand that the natural world is full of curiosities and wonder, miracles and delight.  The wonder of fairies hiding in trees, butterflies drinking nectar and frogs singing in the rushes when they believe no one can hear them, are the seeds of imaginative play. Imagination  grows into problem solving skills, so students have capacity to address complex issues and figure them out.

 

Tell an Origin Story. One of many ways I inspire a child’s imagination is by telling spoken word stories. When I tell The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling to a classroom filled with students, I don’t need to ask what happens next? After listening to the elephant’s encounters with other animals, the children are already held in suspense with fear and anticipation that the crocodile will grab the elephant’s child’s nose.

science, oak tree, tree, drawing, study, inquiry-based questions, questionsMeet a Tree. As a guest teacher in a science class, I asked second grade students to “meet a tree.” They sat outdoors and drew a picture  of the same tree. Every student drew their picture a little differently, approaching the project from a different perspective. Some drew the tree with birds and other creatures they imagined were there. Other students drew only what they saw. While drawing, I asked questions to get them thinking. Is this tree healthy? How do you know? Why do trees have leaves? Do all trees have leaves? How does a tree take a drink?

Consider the level of student engagement, imagination and excitement as a key measure of learning.  Students were recalling prior knowledge, learning with ease, and curious about the spider webs, the insects and the birds they observed in the tree.