ROLLIN' DOWN THE RIVER The Russian River provides a float-friendly waterway between the Rio Lindo school and the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Healdsburg.

Floating down the Russian River is one of the cooler things to do in Healdsburg. Russian River water temperatures are about 70 degrees Fahrenheit now, much cooler than recent air temperatures trending above 100 degrees.

Besides enjoying cooler temperatures on the river, some of the coolness of floating derives from slowing down. With only a few paddles and a short drift, it seems the body’s nervous system regulates to the current’s lazy tempo. Body and brain relax.

Compared to driving, where landscapes zip by with barely a notice, floating allows long, meditative looks. Long looks seem to initiate slower brain waves. Funny that the slowest brain waves are called “delta waves,” brain waves associated with meditation, healing and reduced stress.

It doesn’t take long while floating downriver to see wildlife. Look, there’s a turtle! Oh, wait, that is a stick. Oh darn. And just then, a squawking ruckus occurs. Looking up from the stick turtle, a number of great blue herons are having a breakfast conversation in their pine tree rookery. Then, a little green heron along the shore becomes noticeable through a slight movement. The acorn woodpecker—with white mask and red beanie—appears, as if on leave from the Vatican. Then the mergansers, then Mr. and Mrs. Mallard. And so it goes.

Fun facts: Great blue heron rookies, or heronries, can house up to 50 birds. They return year after year to their same nests. Nests are big and mostly flat, made of sticks often with mossy linings.

Green herons nest near the water, too, but their nests can be found at ground level as well as in trees. They generally build solitary and unlined nests.

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