A final love letter to the river

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind, and I anticipate additional frenzy for another few weeks as our move back across the country happens. I’m saying goodbye to the river this week, along with all the birds and other wildlife the river attracts.

To say goodbye—even typing these words—brings a lump to my throat and the threat of tears. I have loved this place: the American River and its banks. And the river’s last surprise for me (one I first shared with you in January) has brought some of my most cherished memories:

The sea lion visits the river by the fish hatchery.

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A joyful 2018

Happy New Year! I hope this week is bringing you joy so far. Joy is my word for the year, and I’m hoping to find ways to experience more joy. Not necessarily epic ways, but more day-to-day moments that bring joy.

Because of a crazier than usual first few months of this year, I need to make some changes here at the blog. Posts will be shorter (most weeks) and will contain maybe just a photograph or two that I love and want to share with you. This week’s photo brings me joy, and I hope it does the same for you.

An otter plays–and poses–in the water.

By the way, the brain teaser in last week’s post about Christmas gold relates to today’s post. The card says, “I am joyful.” The “I am” is spelled out in the stem and leaves, and the “joy/ful” is spelled in the tulips.

What brings you joy?

The calm after the storm

After several weeks of mostly rainy, dreary days, glorious sunshine has followed to dry out the ground and soggy spirits. I’ve had a hard time staying inside, choosing instead to take long walks with the dog, even though the walks still mean muddy shoes and paws to clean up afterward.

What I’ve noticed most the last two mornings is the return of the birds. Their happy whistles sing a song my soul understands.


Western Scrub-Jays, happy in the morning sun


A closed boat launch

The river remains closed to boating, but despite its muddy rushing, ducks and wading birds have ventured back into it in search of home and food. Their grace and beauty is a welcome addition to the banks of the river. Continue reading

A hard time of year to stay inside

Fall here is beautiful in its own way, not in a familiar North Carolina way, but in a way that catches my breath nonetheless.

The salmon are beginning their run, and happy fisher people (mostly fishermen) are daily swarming the river, giddy with the prospect of catching a big fish. A happy man popped up from the riverbank just this morning, a large, pink fish swinging from his side.


Why do you think they fish all together instead of spreading out?

Rain came back in a big way, too, over the weekend. More than two inches over four days. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Continue reading

The essential nature of the field trip

“The lupines are at their most glorious best right now along the river trail,” my husband said to me after his run. His words changed my plans for the morning, especially once I realized I had not taken the river trail for at least five weeks because of shorter walks while my dog healed. She was ready for a longer walk, and I was ready for a field trip.

We rounded the first corner of the river trail, and this is what greeted us:


A real-life Impressionist painting?

She and I walked the trail together first, and I returned later with the camera. I didn’t want to wear her out with so much standing still while I took photos.

As I walked, I could feel myself inhale more deeply and let go with each exhale a little bit of the tension that had built up in me these last few hard weeks.


Among the sea of purple, I stopped to listen. The wind rustled—a gentle, unceasing caress—through the flowers. Bees and hummingbirds buzzed about, and water rushed by.

I realized I had underestimated the essential nature of the field trip, more healing and more necessary even in adulthood than in childhood.


Purple lupine and other blooms, growing wherever possible along the trail


I loved field trips during school when I was growing up. Whether to a museum, or a farm, or the nearby university, a field trip meant something different and new. My favorite final exam in high school involved a field trip to the art museum so we could choose pieces of art and sit in front of them as we wrote our essays about the artist, the piece, the time period, the art movement of the day.

Field trips take us out of the ordinary, mundane tasks of our daily existence. They refresh, invigorate and recharge us. They teach us to pause and examine beauty we might otherwise miss. I’m especially grateful for this unplanned one.


Poppies are blooming, too, and I love to see them standing out in the sea of purple flowers.

Have you been on a field trip lately? Is it time to get outside and discover what you’ve been missing this spring?