Winter Chill Lingers

Sunday, March 5, 2017    7 am    43 degrees

A gentle breeze blows to chill the air on this very quiet morning. The temperature apparently too cold for the chickens to wake up.

Only a few chickens are awake this morning after last night’s drizzly rain. Birds are twittering. Water remains on the streets.                   Blue gray clouds blanket the sky with faint differences in shades of gray.

Fair Oaks Bridge, boat launch ramp, boat, American RiverThe bridge is dry, showing no sign of last night’s storm. Standing on the bridge I see the fully exposed boat launch ramp and mound of mud now worn smooth from falling rain. Soon all traces of flooding on the boat ramp and parking lot behind will be washed away. The American River moves quietly downstream with very few ripples returning to its pre-rain state.

The yellow “END” sign is still stuck fast alongside the muddy riverbank in a tangle of branches. A large red reflector attached to the sign post is now visible. I wonder if this is the end of the sign’s journey down river?Read more

Gentle Rain

November 9, 2017, 7:15 am 55 degrees

Last night’s rain washed the air clean. I see sharp clear lines on the trees, landscapes and structures.

spider web, Fair Oaks Bridge, mornings, rain, American River, salmon, seagulls, ducks,
Spider webs cling to wet bridge rails after a soft rain.

Even after the rain has come and gone, I still see spider webs clinging to the rails of the bridge. Today is a crisp and warm morning. White billowy clouds cover the sky. River is still and seems empty.

As I stand on Fair Oaks Bridge, the small bird that favors its observation post at the top of the frame calls out a good morning greeting. An usual morning because so far, I see no ducks swimming, no seagulls flying overhead and no Canada Geese honking or approaching from any direction.

By this time of year, I expected to see many salmon jumping out of the water. Instead, see very few.

I imagine them swimming slowly and intently beneath the visible surface. Are they swimming deeper, so I miss them? Salmon are easier to spot at the shallow, rocky area about a mile upriver to the east. I wonder how many salmon stop to spawn in the waters of the American River before they reach Fair Oaks Bridge?

I hear many people remember, as do I, the years when salmon lined the weir at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. So many, they formed their own solid bridge. No more. Their numbers are far fewer these days. It is common to see a handful jumping at the weir (gate on the American River).

Egret, salmon, seagulls, morning, rain, visitors, Fair Oaks Bridge, Fair Oaks, American River, quiet
Egret stands on the opposite shore far away from other shore birds and waterfowl.

Later in the morning, a dozen ducks swim in from about 100 yards away upriver. A few walkers pass and a solo cyclist. I hear one splash down at the river. I walk to the “shallows,” pictured here, where salmon spawn. As many as 30 seagulls float in the water looking for salmon treats to nibble on. Canada Geese fly in here to check status on a variety of tasty food sources.

I wonder why the Egret and the Great Blue Heron always arrive alone and stand apart from other wildlife. They always keep their distance from each other and stand on the opposite side of the river from the gulls, geese and ducks. Both are easily disturbed.

It seems that November is one of the “stillest” months for mornings on the American River. Leaving the wildlife alone to find food at their leisure without boaters getting in their way. During the week, driving down city streets, as seagulls fly overhead, I wonder are they headed to the American River looking for salmon.

seagulls, flight, mornings, rain, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, salmon

Do seagulls carry maps in their head, in a way similar to salmon use their powerful sense of smell to find their home river from hundreds of miles away? I imagine this a seasonal migratory habit leading them to find salmon year after year.

When a dozen ducks finally arrive they “own” the river, swimming down its center of the empty water, leaving a wake behind each of them. Sun has finally risen over the wide cloud cover with a brightness that hurts my eyes. Today I hear a new bird call, in addition to the others I hear regularly each morning visit. This one is a shrill whistle – Whoo – oo—oo. We ee uu.

Every morning a different experience visiting Fair Oaks Bridge.


Rain Softens the Landscape

Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 7 am   56 degrees

Despite the gentle rain, Fair Oaks chickens are on patrol again this morning.

When I first arrive, the rain feels more like a drizzle – drops sprinkle here and there in no special pattern. The air is fairly warm and the rain is a refreshing morning wake up. Even in rain, this bridge is a peaceful place to escape and watch the river move down in a smooth, elegance. The ripples, the shallow places in the river, change as the raindrops fall more evenly and increase in number.soft landscapes, morning, rain, Fair Oaks Bridge, American River, Fair Oaks, nature, outdoor writing,

A few people pass by. Raindrops are marking the bridge deck with huge spots. Water drips down in tiny streams from the Truss structure and the side rails.

Some people think rain makes for a dark and gloomy day. I see landscapes that are fresh, crisp, clean and bright.

Soft, consistent drumming is the heartbeat of rain. The sound of rain is a gentle lullaby. The mist softens the edges of the landscape and the trees. Through the mist, they resemble mirror images of themselves.

So much to observe and listen to out in the rain for those who choose to take the time – those who appreciate the gifts of our outdoor world.

Leaves change color from green to red, orange and gold. Yet, trees along the American River are always green and gold. I watch leaves gently fall into the river and see many others lining the bridge deck. I believe the sound when leaves hit the ground is so gentle, it is overrun by the drumming of the rain.

An Egret scavenges the riverbank. Finding nothing of interest, it flies away. A seagull flies in and I stand to watch its snowy white wings fly gracefully over the bridge.

Ducks flap wildly to rise and fly away. They leave a wake behind them, accentuated by the patterns of raindrops falling into the river. Rain increases and ducks of the river ignore the event as if there was no rain at all.

Puddles form in low spots of the bridge deck. More seagulls arrive, flying through the center of the river channel, flying in the opposite direction of ribbons of water flowing downstream created by the rain.

ducks, water, American River, Fair Oaks, Fair Oaks Bridge, rainOn this particular morning, the river belongs to those few waterfowl that call this place home. I am a guest who finds a sense of joy when I overhear their squabbles, their calls and their complaints.



Sunrise Between Rainstorms

February 2019

 In between rainstorms, sunrises continue to paint pictures awash in blue and gold as sun reflects through heavy cloud cover in the sky east of Fair Oaks Bridge.