Late October seems to be a quiet time on the Truckee. Many of our summer birds have headed south, and winter residents like Common Goldeneye and Buffleheads have not yet arrived. Twice this week I went out walking, and both times came home having seen little but a few Mallards and Canada Geese. Sometimes that happens.
On a very average Wednesday morning, I went down to Ambrose Park for an early walk. I could see my breath in the damp morning air. The leaves on the trees and shrubs were beginning to fade to yellow, and the sun glowed through the tall grasses. A few birds called from the trees — Stellar’s Jays, nothing too unusual.
I walked down to the river looking for something interesting. The mountains reflected in the slow moving current, but there were no birds in sight. I walked down the riverbank a ways and finally saw some animal life — six Canada Geese slowly paddling upstream. Not too exciting. They weren’t too interested in me either.
Across the river, a train was stopped on the tracks. Where was all of the usual morning action, I wondered? I sat on a boulder and waited. Sometimes if you want to see something good, you have to wait a while.
Slowing my brain down a few wavelengths, I looked down at the boulder I was sitting on. It was the size of an extra-large arm-chair. It was made of granite, the sides smooth and polished from many years of being washed over by the Truckee’s waters.
Most of the granitic rocks that you see in the Truckee River started off in the Sierras, and have washed downstream over time in floods. To move a big rock like this one? Well, that would take a big flood. How big? Maybe jökulhlaups big.
More on that next time. For today, I sat on the rock in the sun, breathed the cool air, and watched nothing happen. It was nice.