Saturday, November 21, 2009

river scenes

Every once in a while I remember how fortunate I am to have a scenic commute.  I read bike commuter blogs every day that focus on dodging car doors, dealing with angry motorists and avoiding winter potholes. Although I do like riding on city streets for fun -- stopping at a bakery or farmer's market, seeing familiar neighborhoods from a new perspective -- my actual commute allows me to miss out on the daily business of sharing the road with cars.

My ride to work basically consists of following the American River for four miles until it meets up with the Sacramento River, and then following that another mile to the office.  Each day, it seems, some new variety of wildlife or some new vista presents itself.

This week, I rode into the midst of a colossal goose conference.  About 160 Canada geese were chilling on the grass near the confluence of the two rivers.  They didn't seem to be eating or doing much of anything.  Maybe just resting up for the rest of the flight south... dunno.  I read somewhere that Canada geese (not Canadian geese) are more and more likely these days to just stay put all year round.  That's certainly what I'd do if I were one.  I took a few photos of this gaggle, but like all my photos of birds, they turned out to be just a blurry collection of black dots on a green background.  I'm sparing you.

A little further down the trail, I came across a scene that is as common as any other along the river.  Every day, I pass at least a dozen men walking or riding the trail, moving to or from their sleeping spots on the banks or under the bridges.  They almost become another part of the scenery.  Every once in a while, though, a fellow's circumstances or greeting cuts through the clutter and you're reminded that the cyclists and joggers are in the minority when it comes to river trail users.

This is Wesley and his dog, Aphrodite.  Wesley greeted me warmly as I cycled near the city's water intake plant and I asked to take Aphrodite's photo.  Wesley's been in Sacramento 23 years, living outside most of that time. No hard luck story from Wesley... (although I'm sure he's had plenty of trials)... he said clearly and soberly that he just flat out prefers living outside and is unable to abide "closed in spaces," shelters included.

Like me, Wesley is trying to figure out why the past week has seemed so much colder than other Sacramento autumns in recent memory.  We shared similar tales of being baffled by feeling so cold despite temperatures that aren't any lower than in most Novembers. The stories diverged in one important way, of course.  I was talking about having to turn the heat on earlier than usual.  Wesley was talking about waking up with frost on his sleeping bag.

Finally, here's a rare bit of proof that the Sacramento remains a working river.  It's not all tourist boats and jet skis.  I don't know where this barge full of rock (or is it broken concrete?) was headed, but it was cool to see a little bit of river-based commerce survive in this century.

1 comment:

  1. Did you buy Wesley lunch? He may enjoy a bike too. Nice story thanks Ed