Have you ever seen a chicken that looks like this one?
I found this one scratching at the dirt looking for breakfast during one of my morning walks to Fair Oaks Bridge.
Three days later. . .
I returned to Fair Oaks Bridge and saw a river otter enjoying a morning swim.
Later that morning … I saw three turtles had found a fallen log at the riverbank just beneath the bridge to enjoy morning meditation in the sun.
And the next day...
Mama duck and her six new ducklings out for a swim. They were surrounded by a dozen Canada Geese aggressively searching for food. She led them carefully – as they peeped and followed in a line – to a safer hiding spot in the middle of nearby reeds.
A few minutes walk from Fair Oaks Village down Bridge Street – The American River and Fair Oaks Bridge crossing feature abundant opportunities to enjoy incredible scenic views and diverse wildlife. Great walks and bicycle rides for miles in either direction.
As we moved farther into September, we are getting close to the arrival of our fall run of Chinook Salmon.
The river runs especially low as the weir is being installed in the river at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. The normally shallow area, I have often described as “the narrows” in previous blogs, is more rocks than water today. The rocky area pictured is a short walk from Fair Oaks Bridge.
How things will change in a month! Salmon will be swimming upriver to spawn, jumping and splashing through the narrow area.
Visitors are likely to see a dozen salmon swim through in less than an hour. Seagulls, Turkey Vultures, Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Canada Geese, Cormorants and ducks will all be watching for their turn to enjoy a salmon lunch or dinner.
I continue my bike ride on the Parkway until I reach the long paved path that veers off the bike trail and ends at the river. The island pictured attracts 100 seagulls and a dozen Turkey Vultures during the peak of salmon spawning.
I have often seen people wandering on the other side of the river with no idea how they get there. I recently walked with a Meetup group to Sailor’s Bar. For the first time, I saw the river from the other side. Sailor’s Bar is another beautiful series of easy walks around a large pond with access to the river.
Twenty seagulls are already waiting anxiously for salmon to arrive. For now, they float lazily on the water. Some fly to change their position. Turkey vultures patrol the island. I see these large birds flying across the sky and settling in trees on every walk along the river.
So many birds flying around Fair Oaks Bridge this morning! Far more than any other morning. Birds fly quickly from one part of the bridge truss frame to another – twittering and flapping wings. “Ti Too. Ti Too. Ti Too!” I am close enough to see the birds open their wings and see a white circle underneath each one. Dozens of pigeons fly over and leave as quickly as they come.
Densely cloudy sky as if a heavy cotton blanket hangs on an invisible clothesline in the sky. Along the lower edge, a thick golden streak of light shines at the tree line. On the west side of the bridge, clouds reflect their deep pink and white shapes in the river below. Only two boats out today. One motored around the bend. Six ducks swim out from the riverbank. Birds continue to sound their calls reminding me of a distant siren
The air is still, and feels heavy, sticky and warm. The scent of damp ash carries through the air – the smell after a fire is put out with water.
In the late afternoon, these clouds released our first rain of the season – a heavy and unexpected downpour.
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?”
Salmon completed their fall run this month. Most finished their journey home before Christmas.
This group of salmon swim through the narrow, shallow river channel. I watched them swim in the morning and sunset. Their journey continues. Some stop here to spawn, while others keep swimming. The weir (fence) at the Nimbus Dam blocks further passage up the American River. Salmon find their way to and up the fish ladder at Nimbus Fish Hatchery about 2 miles upriver from Fair Oaks Bridge.
Sitting in the rocky area near the small island in the center of the river, these seagulls patrol the water instead of standing at the shoreline wondering where is the food.
Swiftly moving water under a densely clouded sky and bitter cold are my morning greetings. Whoosh! Whoosh! Is what I hear as the water bubbles and swirls under Fair Oaks Bridge.
Walkers and runners dressed in warm layered clothing engage in their own conversation as they pass facing forward without stopping for a second to look left to right. A single bird calls. I hear honking Canada Geese in far off in the distance and then they quiet down, still unseen. The waterfowl are still hiding so far. Two ducks flap their wings on the riverbank to my left (north). Most have left the area for calmer and shallow water.
Folsom Dam releases water in response to recent storms. Water rushes through the Lower American River and through the gates of Nimbus Dam. The water level under Jim’s Bridge half a mile downriver appears only a foot or two below the deck. I suspect with more storms, the entire bridge may temporarily disappear under the river.
This activity or the absence of it, is common for winter on the river. All spider webs are washed clean. Grass grows in the bridge deck between every board from one end to the other. I do not remember the last time I saw turtles sunbathing on the river. The long branch that extends from the riverbank over the river just under the bridge is long vacant.
A single bird calls. I hear the sound of Canada Geese honking in the wind and then silence. They remain unseen. Wildlife hide in nests safely away from the rising river. All spider webs have vanished. Do not remember the last time I saw turtles on the fallen branch that rests directly under Fair Oaks Bridge. As I stand observing the river, a succession of runners dressed in red t-shirts, all ages from new parents to older adults walk and run in training for a run.
At the boat launch ramp, resident ducks and Canada Geese search for tidbits of food. They find little – all washed away by the rain.
This project engaged residents in one of Sacramento’s oldest neighborhoods – where homes are 100 years old or more. Neighbors participated in a series of “how to” writing and art workshops. They gathered to learn how to research the history of their homes and how to write their own family stories.
The culminating event featured signs displayed in resident front yards sharing stories in images and short narratives.
Other workshop topics included the changing role of kitchens, mapping the assets of your neighborhood,identifying architectural styles and how to become a “house detective,” by researching archival records of homes and neighborhoods. Janicereceived a National Storytelling Network Member Grant to support this project.
Did you know?
The invention of the stove and access to indoor plumbing transformed kitchens beginning in the 18th and 19th centuries. In larger homes, kitchens were built in a separate sunken floor building to keep the main building free from smoke.