Thursday August 10, 2017 715 am 68 degrees
Arrived at Jim’s Bridge by bike – no waterfowl. The water glistens, yet feels empty.
My next stop is the boat launch ramp where I see a dozen Mallards on patrol searching for breakfast on the ramp. They look up and see me and begin to walk toward me. Since I don’t make any throwing motions with food in my hand, they turn around and retreat back down the ramp into the water.
A solo fishing boat carries two people, waiting. The river is especially beautiful this morning. Many weeks since I saw the water shimmer with various shades of greens and gold, reflecting the trees and the sunlight.
Ahhh! The magic of morning.
Six pigeons fly to their place on the Fair Oaks Bridge frame. The air is chilled. A gentle and cool breeze blows against my skin. When I left this morning, my arms were chilled and the car windshield was moist. I have noticed that sunrise is much closer to 6 am than 5, as it was for so many weeks during the summer.
I missed many evening bike rides because of so many 105 degree days that did not cool enough in the evening to make it possible for me to enjoy the long hours of daylight.
No clouds in the sky. A pale white moon hangs in the pale, western sky tinged with gray. Pigeons feast on remains of a biscuit left on the bridge. At the slightest movement or sound, they flap their wings unison and fly away and return a minute later to continue their meal. Off again and back until they have eaten every crumb they can find.
200 yards to the east, a single fisherman stands at the river’s edge waiting. Canada Geese have yet to arrive. They tend to be the late sleepers and the grumpiest when it comes to getting their share of breakfast. Ducks went back into hiding. Where are the otter? The turtles? P
For now, the American River is a quiet place.
In little more than a month, salmon will begin their arrival and fishing boats will multiply by at least five. The river will be standing room only for fisherman standing hip deep in water. I hope seagulls return to feast on the salmon. Maybe the Egret and the Great Blue Heron will return. Salmon provides food for many wildlife here.
I miss the Egrets and Great Blue Heron.
What a delight to see them fly in, walking gingerly at the shoreline looking food and do their best to avoid each other! Not since the flood. They have moved somewhere else along the American River.
What of the snowmelt from the Sierra? When will it come? And how much, how fast? I wonder how the American River will be challenged this fall. Too soon to think of another winter. Standing on the Fair Oaks Bridge, a few runners pass, an occasional cyclist. Today is a slow and peaceful morning on the river. The hum of traffic on Sunrise Blvd. bridge is all I hear.
Riding to the San Juan Rapids overlook I see the water level has receded so the sandbars are visible, and the rapids mild. No rafters come by on this early weekday. No waterfowl are spending a leisurely morning on the sandbar. The Cormorant I spotted several times before is absent – as are all the wildlife of the river.
I return to Jim’s Bridge on my ride home and see two women feeding dozens of resident geese and ducks. With very quacks or honks, they quickly gobbled up the seeds, still scavenging long after the women had left. The feeding time, as always, is filled with scratch, hiss, race, waddle, and wait.
Fair Oaks Bridge and Jim’s Bridge sit less than a mile apart to provide access to the American River Parkway. Both are quiet hideaways to escape the rush of the city and enjoy the peacefulness of the river.