Sunday November 6, 2016 715 am PDT 615 am PST 55 degrees
I see an orange stripe rising in the sky on the east side of my front porch. I drive through Fair Oaks Village and park at the curb a few yards from the bridge entrance so I don’t miss the coming sunrise. Colors last at most 20 minutes before fading to gray.
I miss the rooster’s morning concert and run to the bridge in time to see the sunrise in its full glory of orange glowing behind the clouds – gray streaks woven with bright orange.
This is a very warm morning by comparison with last Thursday. Today is a warm 55 degrees. Now I am fully awake. Two women walkers pass me and we all enjoy the warm weather and glow of the sunrise together. Our reward for rising early. Moments later a man dressed in tattered clothes walks past me asking for change.Read more
Chickens Greet the New Day
Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 7:20 am 57 degrees
Far too warm this morning. Daytime temperature raises to 75 or 80 and it is only March!
Chickens sing good morning. Birds chitter, one calls and another responds from its hiding spot in a tree on the other side of the street. Back and forth. Call and response, half a dozen times. Wildflowers bloom on street side slopes on the way to Fair Oaks Bridge.
White clouds stretch across the sky at sunrise as if they were puffy white batting pulled apart until light shines through. The river is nearly still. A couple walkers pass me and one cyclist. A few more walkers approach. Pigeons arrive at the bridge shortly after I do and fly to the boat launch ramp searching for breakfast nibbles.
Two ducks swim out and a pair of Canada Geese fly unseen. Another goose swims under the bridge and hides under debris at the riverbank. Very little happening that I can see at the river today. Mornings here are very different from the vibrant wildlife scenes and interactions of the fall. I hope as spring progresses, more wildlife will return to the river.
Fair Oaks chickens enjoy a typical morning in the village. These chickens stay in the road a long time before deciding to cross. Why these chickens cross the road is either they were chased by angry rooster or they are allowing a car to pass by.
In the Moment of Sunrise
Sunday August 27, 2017, 72 degrees, 615 am
From my front porch, I see a flaming glow of sunrise filtered by heavy cloud cover.
At 610 am, I force myself out the door to catch the early morning sights on Fair Oaks Bridge. Far too warm this morning! A breeze blows on my warming skin. The morning chicken symphony is long and loud, hiding in unseen trees. I am surprised by a loud call from a tree branch directly above my head as I open my car door to get out. A large white chicken is greeting the new day.
One duck squawks when I arrive at the bridge. Have not seen Canada Geese in many days. They may be wandering around the riverbank at Jim’s Bridge for their morning meal. Jim’s bridge is closed until September 1 to replace the broken fence from our winter flood, so I have not ridden my bike there to check the morning activity.
Why Do Pigeons Circle the Bridge Before Landing?
A dozen pigeons circle Fair Oaks Bridge several times and land on the overhead frame to rest. I still wonder if their flying in circles warms the air or their bodies before sitting down on a cold bridge to rest?
I need to research this. Some don’t rest for long, they are up and flying about. At the faintest of movements, they rise up as a group in a flutter of feathers and fly away and return to circle again minutes later.
Another boater arrives to join the one already in the water. The owner eases it down the boat launch ramp and cruises to a prime fishing spot.
I watch a pair of ducks lazily floating under Fair Oaks Bridge. They look around and float with the current, with no effort. Another pair floats the opposite direction. One pair must be paddling, since the current flows in one direction.
The sun’s rays are glowing through the heavy cloud cover. Three boats sit still in the river and two fishermen stand out in the river corridor in this quiet river waiting for their catch of the day to emerge. The sun rises. The breeze blows softly. By the time I leave the bridge at 715, I can feel the morning air heating up and feeling heavy. Checking the temperature, it is 81 degrees.
In the Moment of Morning
Sunday, August 27, 2017 615 am
Who is Paying Attention and Who is Passing Through?
Seeing so many walkers and cyclists cross the bridge everyday, I find myself wondering why so few people ever stop to see the activity happening on the bridge. I have seen a lot of sleepy walkers cross the bridge. Very few people ever stop to watch activity from the bridge in the morning. Afternoon visitors are far more like to wander, watch and stop, if at all.
I believe the act of walking or cycling is far more interesting if it includes paying attention to what is happening where you are. When crossing the bridge, I wonder who is making a choice to “be where you are” or “be diverted with conversation or random thoughts until you are where you are going?”
Cyclists arrive by 630 am on any given day. Most of them race by at top speed as if this were their personal raceway, inattentive that anyone else uses the bridge. They look straight ahead, neither to the left or the right.Appears they are also focused on passing through – that the destination or a resting spot when they can ride no further is the only place where they will notice?
Music of the Morning
Sunday, September 3, 2017, 620 am 74 degrees
Chickens are singing their morning songs in harmony today.
Each chicken is still hidden away for the night in tree branches and crowing without end. The two chickens pictured believe they are still hiding. The morning sunrise is barely visible behind clouds. A cool breeze blows on me – it feels like the air is already too warm for so early in the morning.
Three cyclists rumble past me on Fair Oaks Bridge as fast as they can move. I see one turn his head to the left and looks to the American River. The others are focused straight ahead.
Five boats sit in the river and another boater arrives on the boat launch ramp. This one plays music far too loud. Far too early for me to hear music – especially when I watching for wildlife and listening to their morning calls. I hear John Denver singing “Born a County Man,” from the boat ramp more than 100 yards away.
I watch as the burning pink sunrise spreads across the sky and changes colors, reflecting on thick white, puffy clouds. Thirty pigeons land on the bridge all at once. Where are the ducks today? Where are the geese? Everyone is out of sight. I hear some distant quacks. They could be 100 yards away or more.
The hot orange sun rises above the trees – Another HOT day. At 710 am, morning temperature is already 82 degrees.
Reflections on Wildlife
Sunday September 10, 2017, 630 am 68 degrees
From my front porch, I watch the orange glow of sunrise above towering trees and behind scattered clouds.
A tiny bird greeted me this morning, with ‘Ti Too.”
I ride to Jim’s Bridge hoping to see a crowd of Canada Geese and ducks engaged in morning rituals and scavenging for breakfast. They hang out on the south side of the riverbank first. Often women come to feed them seeds. When alone, they poke at the rocky shore and swim in shallow water, looking for worms, insects and other morning nibbles.
So few waterfowl are swimming near the Fair Oaks Bridge and nearby boat launch ramp. It is disappointing to visit the bridge and see only boaters. The river today is home to no life beyond that. I remember the Egrets that sat on the north riverbank each morning and the Great Blue Heron that came for an occasional visit. I remember the Egret flying farther east to avoid the Heron as it arrived. I think back to when the Canada Geese and the Mallards fight over food and fight among themselves. Geese hiss and bite. Mallards quack and complain, then chase away who they don’t like.
I arrive at Jim’s Bridge and all the waterfowl are here! The abandoned Pekin duck has joined the Mallard families. Quack! Quack! Quack! The ducks are quietly waking up, swimming, cleaning, quietly poking their head into the water searching for a morning meal. Occasionally one duck will rant, Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! and no one pays attention. The geese and the ducks are expecting a morning handout.
Mallards are so unlike chickens that call out to each other all day long, and call when no one is there to hear. When I hear ducks voice their opinions, no others respond.
In a moment, three ducks rise and fly quietly to the opposite shore. They are too far away and too fast to photograph. Watching them gives me a chance to take a big breath in, feel the chill on my skin. I look up in time to see 20 birds sitting on power lines above the Sunrise Blvd. bridge.
Temperatures are getting warmer already. I ride on to Fair Oaks Bridge. The parking lot for the boat launch ramp is filled with pickup trucks and utility vehicles equipped to tow their boats. I count seven boats in the river, all on the east side of the bridge. I see nearly as many fishermen on the American River as there are ducks.
A mother duck leaders the way for her two young ducks. They casually swim by boats, leaning trees and those uprooted and fallen into the river. They pause their morning a few moments before moving on. So many birds twitter, unseen. So many times, I see feathers on the ground. I pick them up and wonder how did the birds or the chickens or even an owl lose their feathers? Was it a battle or an argument? Or was losing a feather a natural part of their growth? How do birds lose their feathers?
I believe that ducks, geese and birds exercise far more patience than people. People are often in a rush to get anywhere – pack in as much into the day as possible before dropping off to sleep or not even sleep. Waterfowl take their time to swim, to play, and to clean their feathers…and of course, finding food. A duck’s days are for sunning, sleeping, eating, relating to other ducks.
I sit here and wonder what is my role in helping to preserve this peaceful spot where wildlife can thrive?
If more of us sat down to wonder about the miracles of the natural world, would we enjoy more forward thinking environmental concerns and actions? Would more collaborative actions and few disagreements make a bigger difference? I am surprised at how many are just passing through, not noticing the scope of what is here. Envisioning a positive future is rarely a casual visitor’s first thought.
Beavers Swim at Daybreak
Monday, September 18, 625 am 60 degrees
Some mornings hold more “magic” than others. Today is one of those magic mornings.
The air is laden with chill instead of heat. Dense morning clouds hold the bold, vibrant colors of sunrise at the break of dawn. For nearly an hour I watch the colors change as the sun emerges from the horizon. My view from the Fair Oaks Bridge is a full circle of color. The intense, burning oranges and grays in the east spread north and south, fading to white and pale blue in the western sky.
I imagine that walkers, cyclists and fishermen are the ones who seize this opportunity to enjoy this daily display of one of nature’s miracles. Do wildlife enjoy this morning spectacle?
My favorite mornings are those when I listen to a choir of chickens sing still hidden in the trees where they sleep. Without any visible conductor, they call out their good morning songs to one another in rapid succession. As dawn breaks and the day brightens, chickens patrol the park and village streets crowing loudly where ever they go. Some chickens are robust with loud strong “ERR, ERR, ERR, ERR!” The skinnier, smaller chickens sound hoarse. “Er…Er…Er…Er.” It is the smaller chickens that roam Bridge Street trees, plants and curbs scratching for breakfast and repeatedly calling out to no one for about 30 minutes after I arrive on any morning.
One this day, six bicyclists have crossed Fair Oaks Bridge shortly after I arrive. 630 am and the bridge is crowded with people! Morning temperatures are dropping into the 50s and 60s. I wear blue jeans, and a lightweight denim jacket and sneakers. A light breeze blows and I feel the air heavy with chill instead of the heat that roasted the air all summer long.
Three fishing boats are sitting in the river quietly waiting. I have seen one person catch a fish. The salmon are coming. Fisherman catch the early arrivals. Water level of the American River is the lowest I have seen it all year. Could this be because the salmon need the shallow water to spawn?
Pigeons take their stations on the overhead frame. Two of them perch on the outside edge of the bridge, watching the river. None stay for long. The slightest movement, the faintest sound, they fly up and away in an instant. A tiny bird greets me with “Ti Too! Ti Too!” from its place at the top of the bridge.
Where is the Great Blue Heron this morning? I may be too late to see its patrol from the boat launch ramp to the north side and back with a chortle to the south riverbank. Canada Geese are flying high overhead. I imagine they are flying a distance without stopping. Another boat arrives and backs down the ramp. Mallards are still sleeping.
My first time seeing a beaver swimming in the river! I walk to the north side of the bridge to follow it and and see two more! My two photographer friends are here this morning. They point out a man climbing down the near vertical slope of Fair Oaks Bluffs. Why? How? We have no idea.
Two more groups of Canada Geese fly over. Then 30 runners cross the bridge together out for an early morning sprint. The sun finally emerges over the clouds, but the sky remains a flat gray.
As I walk off the bridge, I see my shadow moving through the trees on the north riverbank. This unexpected shadow play lasted about two minutes before the sun changed position and vanished.
Morning temperature rose to 66 degrees. Chickens are still calling “Good morning!”
Rare Vibrant Sunrise!
September 29, 2017 60 degrees, 630 am
I look west from my front door and WOW! A rare sunrise glowing orange through clouds at 620 am.
I leave the house quickly and drive toward the sunrise. The dark sky is a blanket of deep gray clouds and shades of orange. I hurry to the Fair Oaks Bridge to catch the sunrise and hear the lone chicken singing from its tree on Bridge Street.
Village chickens greet me with a rousing symphony this morning. So many awake and singing early.
I shoot a dozen pictures to capture the changing light as the sky brightens. I stand and watch the sky change as the sun slowly rises over distant trees. The clouds turn to gray and then white as vibrant colors shift and fade. Two women cross the bridge quietly holding flashlights. Then I am alone to treasure the colors of morning light with the fisherman below. Three boats sit on the east side and two on the west. The sun I still rising and hidden by long blankets of heavy, dense clouds.Read more
Mist on the River
Sunday, November 26, 2017, 7 am 58 degrees
Mist on the river slowly rolls over the still water as I stand and watch.
The soft orange glow of morning sun reflects through dense clouds. The colors appear only for a few moments, then muted and fade to gray in the company of heavy clouds. Fifteen minutes later, I look again to see a fiery orange strip peeking behind trees in the east.
Only three birds overhead are awake this early. Not a gull or a duck have come into view yet. One lone chicken calls “good morning.” Suddenly dozens of birds in groups of six, nine and twelve soar through the foggy sky and disappear. One seagull patrols the boat launch ramp looking for salmon to nibble on. The turkey vultures, the seagulls and the Canada Geese are all flying west away from salmon spawning habitat. Is the salmon run over so soon?
Everyone has their role and place at the river. Those that don’t belong are quickly told off with a series of loud quacks and chased away.
I approach the boat launch ramp and discover air filled with the scent of dead salmon. Seagulls sit in the water calling to anyone who will listen. Two dead salmon float in the river at the end of the boat ramp. Ducks ignore this treat and paddle over their bodies. A male and female duck swim together and bob their heads in unison as they paddle through the river.