Tuesday -- August 1, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.2 Water Temperature: 79
Today we have 32 children and 9 adults from the Discovery Creek School as guests of George Loeb. This is by far the most professional and best-managed school group that visits the Island. Most impressive is that the first thing they know to do when coming to the island is to show the kids where the bathrooms are.
Wednesday -- August 2, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.6 Water Temperature: 79
A Member reported seeing a white egret feeding along the banks of the towpath across from the Island, and sure enough, that's just what it looked like. But when the field guide was checked to see what kind of egret, the same page with pictures of egrets had pictures of herons in their "white phase". It turns out that both great blue herons and little blue herons are white in their immature phase... and one wonders why, with so many growing up around here, we do not see more of them. The field guide would suggest that the bird seen was an immature little blue heron.
Thursday -- August 3, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7 Water Temperature: 80
Those lovers of cardinal flowers should take the lower trail leaving the swimming area at the top of the Island. Just across from the little islet at the top is a large area filled with them, and several stunning single plants will be passed along the way. The islet itself, sitting in the full sun, is a mass of flowers and colors of all shades.
Friday -- August 4 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.0 Water Temperature: 80
Waiting list Member Paul Stanton has been down to repair blown circuit breakers in the breaker box. One of the breakers on an outdoor fault grounded circuit would not reset, and when Paul got into the box it was discovered that the 17 Jun lightning strike had literally blown the cover off the breaker. The circuit was re-wired to an un-used breaker in the box.
August is the month of the spiders... and anyone attempting to be the first of the day to take one of the Island paths should first look for a long stick to carry in front of you. You will note that many of the doorways on the ground floor of the Island have long sticks propped up beside them, and these bear testament that at night the spiders rule and one should assume that by two hours after dark some enterprising spider has claimed any doorway as his or her own. By the end of August we will surely proclaim the month of the BIG spiders. To the extent that there is a direct relation between moisture and insect proliferation, the Island has definitely become jungle-like. The mosquitoes are biting even during the day... and the distinctive call of the pileated woodpecker will cause one to imagine darkest Africa.
Saturday -- August 5, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7 Water Temperature: 80
By early afternoon we were starting to wonder if the city had been evacuated for some reason but no one had told us... after all... it was arguably the nicest day of the year... a beautiful Saturday following days of prolonged damp and dankness... and no one had come down. Eventually a few Members did come to their senses, but clearly this year's attendance pattern is way down from the last two years. Mind you... no one should think the Caretaker was actually disappointed to have the best back yard in town to himself this morning... but still... we arose early and even cut a new short path so folks could see the large cardinal flower bed before skipping down to the ferry at 0900 hrs with high spirited anticipation, expecting to see people lined up and waiting at the towpath landing.
Late this afternoon there were the screems of a woman being attacked on the towpath and the harsh sounds of a man's voice. Islanders rushed to the ferry and sped across, cudgel in hand. But it turned out that the woman was attacked by a swarm of bees on the iron bridge, causing her to tear her clothes off and run up to the parkway with her male companion. This all happened before we got there, but there was a pile of woman's clothes in the middle of the bridge with a bees all over them, and a female eyewitness at the towpath side of the bridge with no intention of attempting to cross.
Monday -- August 7, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9 Water Temperature: 77
From the National Weather Service: WITH HIGHER RIVER LEVELS THIS MORNING...STAGES ARE CONSIDERED HAZARDOUS FOR RECREATIONAL USE ALONG THE MAIN STEM POTOMAC FROM CUMBERLAND DOWNSTREAM TO HANCOCK. LEVELS WILL REMAIN HAZARDOUS THROUGH TUESDAY. WITH ADDITIONAL RISES FORECAST...THE LOWER MAIN STEM POTOMAC IS EXPECTED TO REACH HAZARDOUS LEVELS AT LITTLE FALLS TUESDAY NIGHT AND WILL REMAIN HAZARDOUS INTO WEDNESDAY.
It would seem that the continuing rains of the last few weeks have finally saturated the up-river water table such that significant run-off is reaching the river basin. Stay tuned to see if the Island will be closed Wednesday or if this is just a quick high water crest.
Tuesday -- August 8, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.3 Water Temperature: ?
We left the Island this morning for a quick trip to the store and returned to find the Island telephone line down in the middle of MacArthur Blvd. and that the river had risen suddenly and alarmingly in such a short time.
A friend of the Rogers family who was mowing their lawn at the Sycamore Store when we arrived explained that a tractor-trailer had attempted a u-turn on MacArthur and had caught and dragged the wire from the pole. Considering that last night's storms left almost 70,000 people without electricity because poles are down... the same ones that carry telephone lines... and considering that Bell Atlantic is on strike... surely we are now at the end of a very long list and there is no way to know when you will actually be able to read this uploaded report.
The Island was closed shortly after noon because the river level passed 5 feet at the little falls gauge and was rising quickly. It is believed that this is a brief surge in the river level, that the crest will pass tonight, and that the water level will then drop quickly, enabling tomorrow night's monthly meeting.
And just to show you how life is always coming at you... sometimes suddenly... today's lead off story should have been about the near destruction of the Caretaker's plastic garbage can last night by some critter with impressive teeth who almost gnawed through the top cover. The previously sighted "huge raccoon" is the most likely suspect. Fortunately, too much effort was expended chewing through the plastic handle part of the top, else the entire contents would have been laid waste instead of just the top bag. Massive duct tape repair was attempted... and then stunk up with liberal amounts of insect repellant to make it taste terrible. Stay tuned!!! One can understand why the cars do not always want to go out at night. What ever else it is... it is not boring to live down here!!
Wednesday -- August 9, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.7 Water Temperature: ?
We are informed today that the downed telephone wire is still lying across MacArthur Blvd. and that the repair is not scheduled until Friday. River levels are dropping slowly. The Caretaker's Wife has commented that she does not remember ever seeing the river like this in the summer months, and certainly the river seems to be carrying heavy clouds of sediment in unprecedented quantities.
There is a most impressive storm front coming that swept across West Virginia in just over 3 hours, so it is understandable why they are predicting 55 mph winds later this afternoon. Of course, as we are unable to up load you will not read this warning until Friday, but it will be interesting to see what happens at tonight's scheduled monthly meeting.
Thursday -- August 10, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.0 Water Temperature: ?
While leaving last night's meeting, Marcia Loeb commented that the evening serenade had changed. Upon arriving at the meeting earlier, the evening sounds had been primarily of cicadas, which make a singular sound that is buzz saw in fashion. Departing the Island two hours later, only the katydids could be heard with their dual rhythm "katydid... katydidn't". This morning one could hear the cicadas do their thing, and the difference was suddenly so clear that it was a wonder to contemplate how one could live over fifty years before understanding this basic distinction in the every-night-sounds... to have heard all one's life but not known enough to listen. Little kids should be made to learn these things early in life lest they grow up to be like the Caretaker and experience the bitter embarrassment of ignorance. Certainly this is just another example of our cultural disconnect from nature... as before nighttime television surely every kid knew a cicada from a katydid.
At the 5-foot gauge level the water covers the lower trail at the upper end of the Island, denying access at this time of year to one of the most beautiful floral displays on the Island. The best place to view the expansive cardinal flower bed (et al) is now from the chair on the square piece of plywood that can be reached from the upper trail leaving the swimming area at the top end of the Island.
Friday -- August 11 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: Water Temperature: ?
A Member (who wished to remain anonymous) visited and related an interesting conversation she had just had with "the Guy that pours coke at Fletcher's Boathouse," who seems to be an expert on things happening in, on, and to the river. This "guy" apparently has a great interest in things environmental, and was talking about the number of organizations up-river that are allowed to release effluent into the river. These organizations have "release rights" to put effluent into the river and even trade these rights with one another. Can this be true?? Certainly it squares with our experience of suddenly seeing suspicious stuff in the river at night as though someone is releasing it into the river and deliberately timing it to flow past the Metro area when there is no one to awake to witness. There was also discussion about other un-monitored pollution points in the river basin, including leaks from the sewage pipe that runs down the side of the canal. The Member went to a suggested site in the canal near Chain Bridge and verified what appeared to be leaky bubbles coming from the pipe. Are there pollution cops we can call about this?? Does anyone care??
Finally, the huge stand of Japanese knotweed in tree room number three has been cut down, a project carried out over several weeks. This is an exotic invasive that had taken over a 400 square foot area of the Island and was starting to spread exponentially. By the way, starting at the path by the ferry that goes up-Island there are huge, grandfather sycamores every 25 to 30 yards until the end of the Island. To the Caretaker these are natural demarcations for distinctive "tree rooms," and there are 6 such stretching to the end of the Island.
Autumn is usually announced around here when the fragrance of the large clump of sweet autumn clematis that hangs from a tree over the canal near the towpath landing commands attention. Well, although there is no smell yet, it is blooming its head off in this evening, when in fact it was unseen and un-noticed when the Caretaker went across to the towpath this morning to investigate the efforts of Park Service employees to use a cherry picker to remove trees from the canal. So, let us note the first blooming autumn clematis... rather early, as with everything this year. When will all this "early" stop... before or after the beginning of winter?
Saturday -- August 12, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
This morning there was a lone goose bathing near the captain's float... the first near the island in more than a month. There are perhaps 5 geese that have been seen around this part of the river, but by and large they do not visit us anymore. Most geese from this area migrate to nest at the Ugava Peninsula in upper Quebec this time of year. However, Angus Phillips has written that Maryland waterfowl chief Larry Hindman has returned from an inspection trip there to report bad news. Thanks to a ban on Eastern shore hunting of Canadian geese during the last 5 years the dwindling population stocks have been rebounding, but a series of snowstorms in the upper Quebec nesting areas starting around June 4 caused such problems of icing and deep snow cover for the geese that two thirds of the nests there were abandoned. City dwelling Sycamoreans are generally unaware of the shocking decline in the goose populations during the 1990's and tend to complain about the geese and their aggressive food begging, their too abundant droppings, and their messy feathers during molting season. But consider that we are lucky to have such complaints when elsewhere Canadian geese are a diminishing wildlife resource.
A special mention in the dispatches to Club President Tryon Wells and friend Brian Mulligan who took Brian's truck to Alexandria to fetch some barely second hand and very nice kitchen cabinets for the new caretaker's addition that were donated by Emily and David Powell. Thank you, Emily and Dave!!
Sunday -- August 13, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
The Caretaker's Wife has passed on an article from the 26 July edition of the Gazette Community News entitled Swain Family Phasing Out Presence at C & O Canal Lock. One gets to the end of the article before one reads that "Swain said he doesn't want to go out of business, but the $10,000 insurance premium is a problem." Because Swain's Boat House "provides equipment to the public for recreational use", the Park Service requires they carry $1,000,000 in liability insurance as "the minimum". So now the question is... if a Member brings guests to the Island and tells them it is OK to take out a Club canoe... is the Club "providing equipment to the public for recreational use"... and if so... what does this mean about the Club's exposure to liability risk.
It is significant that our own Party Supervisor is considering resigning his position because he does not "want to be sued for $50 million because some Member had a party and a guest parent let his kid go out in a canoe without a life preserver". So now the question is, what is more alarming... the fact that we have already had situations this year like the Party Supervisor describes... or that he is an attorney and knows whereof he speaks?
Monday -- August 14, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
The main thing that happened today is in fact something that did not happen... the phones were not fixed as promised on both Friday and Saturday mornings. We were excited that three large telephone company trucks were seen at our torn line on Saturday morning, but they left without doing anything.
Wednesday -- August 16, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
In today's talks with Verizon (formerly Bell Atlantic) about when they might finally fix the phone lines... they made it clear that there were 3400 repair problem reports and only 40 employees working on them. It is now safe to say no one will read these uploaded remarks until after the strike is over.
A large group of children, probably 40 plus kids of about 7 years, were seen being escorted to the rope swing on the towpath.
Thursday -- August 17, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
We do not remember a year in which the flowers were so glorious... no doubt a blessing resulting from all this rain. A stroll along the Island paths will take you through many pockets of different fragrances. The large plants with purple flowers that are coming out now are blooming ironweed.
You will notice that the Captain's float is hung up on the shore. Actually, it is not the shore not the shore hanging up the float, but a piece of iron rebar sticking up from the river bottom to mark where the Island's sewage formerly went into the river. There is an outlet pipe there, although most of you probably thought the rebar stuck up for no good reason but caretaker laziness. As the recent high water receded, the float drifted over the iron rebar and could not be dislodged. We await either more high water or perhaps 4 hefty worthies willing to put their backs to good purpose to refloat it.
Friday -- August 18 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.99 Water Temperature:
When we heard it we stopped to remember what it was... after all it had been 11 days since we had last heard an Island phone ringing. And then everything was dropped as we ran likity-split towards the house to pick up the phone. Sure enough, it was the telephone repairman on the pole at MacArthur Blvd. checking to see if the line worked.
EUREKA !!!! It does !!! We are re-connected to the world !!!
Saturday -- August 19, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.95 Water Temperature: not given
Yesterday evening a disfigured and mal-formed frog (actually, toad) was observed on the Island. One reads about these things in the press, but before this year there have been no frogs or toads on the Island since we have been here... presumably because the '96 flood scoured everything w/o deep roots in the Island. The left forearm was tiny and there was what looked to be a bony protrusion sticking out of the right side of the face. We will attempt to examine all future sightings more closely to determine how rare or common this phenomenon is on the Island.
There are surely leprechauns on the Island. Yesterday the Caretaker set about to determine why the quaint wall lights upstairs in the Clubhouse would not turn on. Bulbs were inspected and tightened... circuit breakers were played with... and finally all was given up. Then, shortly after dark during an evening stroll, these same lights were observed to be on. How or when or why they came on is a mystery... but the switch now functions and nothing can be shown to be wrong.
Monday -- August 21, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.87 Water Temperature: not given
Sunday morning we awoke to find a strange canoe tied up at the towpath landing. During the day it was used by teenagers but returned to the same tie-up, and was there this morning also. This afternoon we finally brought it over to the Island and racked it so it would not be taken out by joy-riding teens that might see it on their way to the illegal rope swing. We will contact several organizations to attempt to find the owner.
Never before have we seen so many fish in such clear water at the captain's float. One Member swore it is better than a aquarium... one can see small bass, big catfish, lots of blue gill, something that looks like a walleye, and innumerable small fish of indeterminate species. At one moment it was possible to see at least thirty fish larger than minnows. The show is not as populated at the swimming float but just as interesting. Anyone coming should bring bread to toss.
These unseasonably cool nights are our best guess for the diminishing numbers of spider webs on the paths and around the Island generally. One week one could not take three steps with out needing a stick to clear the way... and now we see only a small fraction of what was an enormous spider population. One wonders if the mosquitoes will increase as a result.
Tuesday -- August 22, 2000 -- The Club is Closed
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.85 Water Temperature: 76
Late yesterday afternoon four teenage boys rang the bell to ask if we knew the whereabouts of a canoe that had been tied up at the towpath landing for the last two days. One was clean cut and responsible looking and the others looked as though they could have been hung over from imbibing the contents of the liquor bottles left in the bottom of the canoe. Still, all were polite, and after Mr. Responsible cheerfully complied with a request to show ID and write info from same into the ferry log, they were allowed to take the canoe, and all the trash that had been left in it.
This morning the main lawn was mowed and while taking his ease on a lawn chair afterwards your caretaker decided to make a project of the square meter or so beneath his nose as he lay face down. How much grass was under all that creeping Charlie... how many bugs were walking around... etc? The answers are (1) not much and (2) you wouldn't believes how many. Of course... as one gazes down at the ground about 9 inches below one's eyes it is hard to pick out details at first. It is only after a few minutes one notices how much tiny movement is going on down there. And the longer one looks the more movement one becomes aware of. One reason for the scurrying was undoubtedly the recent mowing, which to that tiny world must have been like something taking the canopy off of a miniature rain forest. Lots of flying things were hovering and certainly hunting... and the ground dwellers were certainly feeling exposed, as no one seemed to be merely strolling. It was as though some small but alien planet had just been landed upon and the tiny inhabitants were even more weird than some science fiction writer's imagination could conjure. It was quickly apparent that there was too much to catalog or keep track of... which upon reflection resulted in a feeling that could only be described as humbling.
Wednesday -- August 23, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.80 Water Temperature: 76
Today we have had our first falling leaves. By this is meant the first "Oh my gosh... what is all that stuff drifting down from the sky?" observation. So far it is only the sycamore trees, but it appears not to be a result of the fungus plaguing them but in fact single leaves beginning to litter the ground. This is the sort of thing that makes one run check the calendar, but we have now had such a long string of days with night time temps in the low 60s that plants of all kinds can be forgiven thinking that it is October.
Guests to the Island are always struck with the number of un-marked helicopters that pass overhead. Especially as these are the same ones most likely to roar down the river at illegal tree top heights. The Caretaker has professional experience looking for military markings or numerals, and while one may not wish to give credence to conspiracy theories that a plethora of un-marked helicopters denotes a UN plot to force world government on us... this is not the same as UFO madness. Such un-marked craft do exist in some numbers. One thing new this year is the large number of gun ships we see.
Thursday -- August 24, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.86 Water Temperature: 76
At the last monthly meeting it was voted to repair the lights on the hill that were blown apart (literally) by the 17 Jun lightning strike by accepting a bid from Donny Jongesoon, one of the Bell Atlantic technicians that had run a new telephone wire down from MacArthur and across the river. As it was apparent that the project for the hill lights would be similar if not so long, Donny was asked at the time if he would like to sub-contract for the project. Club President Tryon Wells finalized negotiations and today Donny arrived to begin work. We are lucky that Bell Atlantic is still on strike in this area, as the job will likely take a couple of days.
Last evening at dusk a guest and the Caretaker were canoeing at the up-river end of Ruppert's Island when a line of surface bubbles came out of a rock and toward the canoe like some torpedo exhaling. There was definitely an adrenalin spike. The water was shallow and clear enough even in the failing light that when we looked over the side a large dark body could be seen zooming by. By large is meant approximately 2 feet long but very wide and thick, maybe a foot. No distinguishing tail was noticed. The trail of bubbles had stopped when they approached the canoe but began again after passing, so we were able to see and follow to where the creature went... which was to a place where a tree put a tangled root system into the river... obviously a great place for a den of some sort. As we came close the guest commented that the place smelled like a zoo... and it did smell musky... hence the best bet is that we saw a very large muskrat.
Friday -- August 25, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.87 Water Temperature: 77
Bad news to report... Steven Paley came down to fish and discovered that his canoe was missing... and presumably stolen. Dr. Paley's 18 foot Grumman (marked with the number 27 and a decal for rack L5) was in the last rack of the canoe shed and perhaps chosen because it was the furthest away. It has been gone at least three weeks, which was the last time the Caretaker did a census of the canoe racks and noted which were empty. Folks frequently take their canoes off-Island in the summer, often on Sundays when there is only a substitute caretaker on duty, and as there are many empty racks there was no apparent reason to be alarmed at the time of the census.
If you have read about the tiger mosquitoes and wish to see and feel them, come on down. Unfortunately the inevitable result of the wet weather cycle means that the mosquitoes are out in force. This Asian import is famous for being about and biting in the daytime. They also appear to be smaller, if that is in fact what is biting us down here every time a cloud goes by the sun.
Saturday -- August 26, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Donny finished installing the lights on the path late this afternoon. This means it took three solid days to complete the installation... not counting a fourth day of preparation and set up. His helper (your caretaker) can testify that he did not even stop for lunch.
Staff woke up bleary this morning... last night the Caretaker's Wife suddenly started finding bees in the house... 13 of them. Most of them were dead, but it was still un-nerving because they appeared over a short time. Donny had sprayed a nest he had found inside the outside wall near the bedroom earlier in the day, and we presume they had an opening into the bedroom that they used when the sun went down. Like I said... un-nerving... we will be grateful when the new quarters are done. And if that were not enough:
Last night we were kept awake by yet another evening of drunken partying down at the illegal rope swing... the fourth this week and the second still going at 2 AM.
Sunday -- August 27, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Three separate groups of fishermen came down before the Island was opened today... one before sunrise. Arrangements had been made the day before so the ferry was left locked up at the towpath landing. One reported that upon arrival he found the chain wrapped around the metal railing but that it was not in fact locked. It was locked when the substitute caretaker showed up, however, because he did not know the combination and sat on the steps for almost two hours before someone came along that did.
Again the bees were to be found inside the quarters last night, although in fewer numbers. Clearly there is the lesson that living close to Nature one cannot wall out the bad things if one expects to enjoy and appreciate the good.
It should be recorded that a group came to picnic at the Island at 1745 hrs but the ferry bell was not answered because the substitute caretaker had already left. In this case it was perhaps understandable because it had been rainy... but Members coming in the late afternoon on Sundays should be informed that the Island is closed when the substitute caretaker leaves. Early departure... or attempted early departure... continues to be a big problem with subs on Sunday afternoon. Your employee has made himself very unpopular with Certain Members by informing them that they better not be thinking of leaving with three hours of sunlight left and several canoes out and people on the Island. It is amazing the number of people who think they can turn their responsibilities over to your employee and leave early when he returns from being off Island on his day off.
Monday -- August 28, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.86 Water Temperature: 78
Over the weekend it has become suddenly noticeable that the creeping Charlie is dying off in patches in the lawn. Perhaps everything in these patches is affected, at least there seems to be very little grass left where Charlie has disappeared. With this wetness there are bare spots appearing in many unlikely places... where foliage has turned black, as though affected by a fungus or mold or rot. The fall asters are blacking up from the bottom. This phenomena is distinct from the August thinning commented upon before, where plants and tree canopy begin to thin out abetted by the usual end of summer dryness. This process is now starting at last... some of the trails are less closed in by the foliage... but the cycle seems to be triggered by phototropic processes as the plants sense less daily sunlight.
The cats have again been displaying the behavior we associate with "There is a big animal out there and we do not want to go out." Fortunately this does not mean human animal, as Miss T would in no way be deterred and would in fact want to play. These are times when it would be nice to have the type of cameras they must use for nature shows so that we could wake up in the morning and turn on the VCR to see the Island show that took place while we were asleep. Of more concern are those times when human animals come on the Island and we do not know it... as we know happens because of the two stolen canoes this summer. At this time of the year there are often fires up and down the river gorge where primarily Latino and Asian folks are out fishing... and sometimes drinking. From the Island we have a unique perspective on everything that goes on in this part of the river, and so we know that the list of possible trespassers to the Island is long. However, we no longer report these things because Park Police dispatch has made it clear they do not welcome being bothered by our security concerns.
Tuesday -- August 22, 2000 -- The Club is Closed
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.91 Water Temperature: 77
In gardening they talk about the three-year rule for perennials... that being how long it takes for a perennial to reach full maturity and glory. Each year since the '96 floods the herbaceous perennials on the island have grow higher, and this year one can go to the lower end of the Island, which has previously looked desolate, and find parts impassable with chest high foliage. The large yellow flowers that stand so tall and brilliant are the green-headed cone flower (rudbeckia lacinata). Already in bloom for three weeks, the flowers are so large and bright that clumps bordering the lawn stand out over 100 yards away. Also this year there are for the first time since the floods several swamp rose mallow (hibiscus palustris malvaceae). The flowers can at first be mistaken for the hibiscus syricus now coming into bloom near the Clubhouse, but is in fact herbaceous and not a shrub.
Wednesday -- August 30 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.94 Water Temperature: 77
Today Club President Tryon Wells came down to trouble shoot and test the new lights on the hill... which now work well. At the beginning of this year there were only two lights. When these failed in the early spring, Captain Matthews supervised the repair and re-stringing of the line across the river, and then Tryon helped install a new light at the ferry landing. Further, one of the single fixtures on the hill path was upgraded to a double, so when the 12 Jun lightning strike blew apart the entire light system, there were three operating lights on the hill in addition to the new one at the landing. Donnie installed a new double fixture on a new tree specifically to cover the rough trail area where the turn is before the iron bridge, so there are now a total of 6 lights on the MD side. Now, most of you will never see these lights because the Island is closed at dark and if it is so dark you need them you have stayed too late. The lights are for meeting nights, special occasions by arrangement, and for the Caretaker's Wife to use coming home from work.
Today we were visited by Officer Bill Thomas of the Park Police and another officer from Montgomery County who were investigating the disappearance and presumed abduction of Alison Thresher not far from here several months ago. The situation at the illegal rope swing was discussed with Club President Tryon Wells who was here at the time, especially in light of the recent theft of Dr. Paley's canoe.
Thursday -- August 31 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.00 Water Temperature: 77
There is a path that exits the area known as the caretaker's yard that goes up-Island. Looking up, one may notice a huge, beautiful, classic, hornet's nest hanging from a tree. How such a large thing suddenly came to appear without staff being aware is a mystery. Certainly we have not noticed alarming numbers of wasps. Perhaps this is a possible reason for the diminishing number of spiders... but do not get excited here, as we only mean from zillions to billions.
As a matter of fact... a reason for big excitement down here is a new field guidebook on spiders. Interested Members may request this from the Caretaker. Being forced into daily and intimate association with spiders of all sorts, it seemed logical to get to know them better, although it should be qualified that the Caretaker's Wife shares none of this spirit or enthusiasm. A particular fondness is now felt toward the interesting spider that is always spinning an orb web across the back door to the men's locker room. For months the Caretaker was always forgetting and mindlessly walking through the gossamer with much consequent sputtering and cursing. But now a more enlightened attitude prevails... the spider, now called Oscar, seems positively adorable... and catching flies to fling into his web has even been considered. Hard as you may find this to believe, the Caretaker's Wife now has some silly thought that these impulses are connected with the need for an immediate vacation.