Friday -- September 1, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.04     Water Temperature: 78

At first it seemed positively disconcerting... that several large petaled, green-headed coneflowers (which are actually a brilliant yellow) should suddenly take flight as though caught up in a gust of wind... and this on a windless day. It would be embarrassing to confess how many moments passed before it became apparent that one was actually observing goldfinches. The first thought was how much the coloring and markings of the birds resembled the coloring and marking of the flowers. The second was the realization that this was probably no accident. The third cannot be mentioned as it reflects upon the deficiencies of the observer. And the fourth was a paean to the Maker of All Things for the gift of being able to witness such beauty and of a very small appreciation of the Perfectness of Things. Watching the goldfinches cavort was a realization of how many times one might have walked by a commonly accepted sight in the lawn but not actually noticed if it was a clump of green headed coneflowers or a flock of resting goldfinches. Probably in many cases it was a mixture, as it is now apparent that the birds have some connection to these flowers, although whether for feeding or camouflage we have not been able to get close enough to discern. And to think I actually wondered some weeks ago... I now reflect this was about the time the flowers came on... where the goldfinches went. Yet another example of what a wonderful treasure of teachings can be found on the Island... where new and delightful surprises are always coming at you... each with the potential to be a happy epiphany.

Saturday -- September 2, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.11     Water Temperature: 79

It is Regatta Day !!! Grab your kids and paddles and come on down. The events begin at 1330 hrs.

Some of you will note the new sign on the screen door leading to the caretaker's quarters that says "no admittance". This year there have been more than the usual number of guests to the Island that have walked in on us without knowing anyone actually lived here. I seem to recall that Peter and Holly had a sign on the door when they lived here. So Members, please do not take it personally... the sign is not for you but for your guests. We will replace it with a "private" sign as soon as we find one.

You do not want to hear this... but we got chiggers! This is the first year we have noticed them... and it is hard not to notice them. We are ready for autumn or drought to lessen the bug population, and are looking forward to living in new quarters where there are not so many holes in the floors and walls left over from the '96 floods.

Notice that the river water temperature has not really been above 80 degrees all summer. There were 5 days during which it was exactly 80, but none above. Again... we are talking about ALL summer. Surely this has had an effect upon the fishing.

Monday -- September 4, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.27     Water Temperature: 79

Happy Labor Day !!!

Saturday's Fourteenth Annual Sycamore Regatta was a fun event... there were 41 people signed in ... all children for a day despite their ages. The day was sultry and steamy and the only people really happy were wearing gills, but the high relative humidity did not seem to dampen the fun. Loud thunderstorms passed to the southeast all afternoon. George and Marcia Loeb seemed to have the events timed perfectly so that the certificates and prizes were awarded just in time for people to escape ahead of the storm, but there was a revolt of the little people at the end... demanding to be allowed to compete in the cancelled balloon stomp event. So the afternoon ended in the rain, as kids (of all sizes) danced and stomped to be the last to have an inflated balloon tied to their ankle. The crowd favorite in this event was clearly Anthony Pill... by many years the youngest and smallest... but also, clearly largest in determination.

After the first flurry of rain and almost everyone's departure, 5 young adult trespassers had to be ordered off the swimming float after being observed roughly pushing each other into the water. The Caretaker "invited" them to swim to the Island so that they could be ferried to the towpath. This is the first instance of trespassers on the swimming float since it was moved out of the line of sight of the illegal rope swing.

Tuesday -- September 5, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.32     Water Temperature: 78

Noon and it is still only 60 degrees down here. This year summer really did end at midnight on Labor Day.

Wednesday -- September 6, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.42     Water Temperature: 75

It is so depressing... not only did it get down to 54 degrees on the Island last night... the temperature at which one must think of houseplants left out of doors... the temperature below which tomatoes will not set fruit... but for the first time since early summer we saw ducks on the river. Gee... the last time we saw ducks they were heading north. Fortunately we did not see these fly off.

Officer Bill Thomas of the Mounted Park Police was by again today. We are happy to report that the Alison Thresher disappearance is still being investigated. Officer Thomas asked that we spread the word to folks we know who use the towpath regularly to be alert to and report any suspicious characters. He will be patrolling in the area for the next couple of weeks. He also reports that in October the Park Service should begin to build a new stable complex for mounted officers at Carderock, which is not far from here, and that this will mean more of a mounted presence in our area. Any citizen support to write letters or call official worthies to make sure this happens will be appreciated. Presently we do not see mounted patrols very often because they are now headquartered down at the tidal basin and must trailer a long distance. Formerly the were located at Glen Echo Park, but during their TDY to the Atlanta Olympics their facility at Glen Echo was taken away by sneaky politicians while they were away, and they returned to DC to find they had been re-located in their absence. Hence their understandable distrust of the promises of Carderock. The Club should send a letter of support.

Thursday -- September 7, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.53     Water Temperature: 73

After leaving the Island in the early afternoon, Rene Dunham returned shortly thereafter to report that two female cyclists she had just spoken to had themselves encountered a very suspicious man on the towpath near Lock 7. Rene had returned to the Island so that this encounter and description could be reported to Park Police. A few minutes later we heard a strange thundering sound coming up the towpath and looked up just in time to see Mounted Officer Thomas heading toward Lock 7 at a full gallop. Folks... it was inspiring. John Wayne never looked so good.

Friday -- September 8, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.40     Water Temperature: 73

Toby Smith has called to suggest that the Island's fishers might wish to contribute to an Island fishing log. Apparently some resorts and hotels that especially cater to fishing do this so that those going out can check to see what is biting and what is not. If enough interest in this idea can be garnered from the regular fishers, such a log might be kept in a red loose leaf notebook just inside the screen porch door so that anyone passing to put paddles and life preservers up might be motivated to make an entry. Stay tuned. By the way, last year the log began to mention "fisherpersons" when Judy Bader established herself near the top of the fishing pantheon, but I have recently been informed that the correct label is "fishers".

Further, George Malusky has informed the Caretaker that any Member wishing to use his flat-bottomed johnboat may do so without the necessity of asking him permission in advance. He could not be convinced that there should be prior communication about such use, although the Caretaker will suggest to anyone that it would be good manners. George's is the smaller of the two johnboats, the other belonging to Joe O'Boyle, and the use of which only George Malusky is authorized. These boats are much favored by fishers because of the ease with which casting can be done from a stable platform without worrying about rocking a canoe in which one must always be aware of the center of gravity. Joe O'Boyle has mentioned the possibility in the past of selling his boat, and if he were ever to be serious the Club should purchase it.

Saturday -- September 9 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.40     Water Temperature: 73

Peggy Thomson has sent in an article from The Torch, the monthly publication of the Smithsonian staff, concerning an award-winning new film from the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in which Earl Nyeholm, an Ojibwa Indian, demonstrates the ancient craft of making a birch bark canoe. The article is fascinating and will be left upstairs for the Membership to access, but Peggy has suggested that the film might be a wonderful thing to feature at a monthly meeting.

Bird traffic moving south down the river has become noticeable. Here we are not talking about the usual waterfowl, but different types in small groups. Fishers notice that the river water temperature is staying down in the lower 70s.

Monday -- September 11, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls:     Water Temperature:

Rene Dunham is in charge of the Island, and the log, while staff is on vacation:

Marianne Ross arrived in the late afternoon to assist, enjoy, and share the night with me. Challenges were electronic in nature. Which phone was the Island phone and which the cell? (I'm am not a user of the latest in communication devices.) I used what I thought was the cell phone for a few calls home before suspecting that I was mis-using precious minutes. When I missed a phone call, I couldn't get the message machine to release its secret. It wasn't until the next day that I noticed there were TWO message machines and TWO cradles, and the secret was in the other machine. Now I carried the Island phone in my pocket. When bells blasted off all over the Island, I could smugly hit the ON button. But when I did that, it didn't speak to me. Ah, I see, the phone needs to return to its nest to regain its confidence to speak.

Then there were all the light switches to find which did not correspond to light positions and the one for the kitchen ceiling light that roared at me and made the garbage disposal grind. By the next day I was already evolving into a higher life form and could now notice ceiling fans and deduce that chairs were created to reach the fan chains that made the fan blades twirl and skin feel good.

Tuesday -- September 12, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls:     Water Temperature:

Rene Dunham is in charge of the Island, and the log, while staff is on vacation:

It is so wonderful to start the day by jumping in the river. I stood on the dock in my swimming suit a few minutes, gazing at the water, before realizing that clothing was entirely unnecessary at that hour. It was a delicious treat to be totally honest in the river.

Linda Friedland arrived mid-morning by invitation - a superb and passionate birder. Linda was hopeful to sight rare warblers on migration. Eleven o'clock wasn't a great time of day to be birding, but she caught a fleeting glimpse of some warbler that excited her but disappeared before she was certain of it's markings. She was so delighted to be on the Island that I think it responded by showing off to her. The flowers were profuse. The spider webs across the paths were each representative of a different family... five different kinds in all. (We later found there was a spider field guide.) One green heron hunting in the grasses off the towpath side of the Island turned into two herons flying off and one snake about three feet long holding a five inch catfish in its jaws.

There was no way that catfish could wiggle itself free, but as long as it was breathing (binoculars are miraculous eyes), it was trying. We watched the snake dance with it for maybe five minutes, the snake tail drawing waves upon a rock that slanted upward from the river, the fish rooting the snake jaws near the water. The snake then relaxed into the water and swam with its prey out of our field of view.

One more drama was presented before lunchtime intermission. A demanding cry came from the trees above. A goldfinch flew to its fussing child, which looked bigger than its mother and quite capable of getting its own lunch. I think that's what Mother was telling it before she flew off. It followed her. There were a few skirmishes. The big little one was having a temper tantrum!

The evening was very busy. Three fishermen were out already and planning to return at sundown. Two women came to swim and accompanied me to the rock islands near Ruppert's Island while Marianne covered the ferry. Then Tove Elfstom came to take his canoe home, concerned since the theft of a canoe from the canoe rack. Then Maria came with guest and swam to Virginia - and back. And each group returned separately on the ferry, magically turning my one plate of supper into five courses. I sure appreciate the Caretaker's good nature about interruptions. I relaxed and enjoyed everyone telling his or her own tales about their Island time.

Barney and Ms. T look funny at me. It is 11:40 PM and Barney is at the screened kitchen door waiting for "staff" to come home.

I forgot to mention that Linda was stung in the hand by a bee while eating lunch here. She is sensitive to bee stings. We looked all over for an antihistamine. She ordinarily takes this for bee stings. Finding none, she left for the Glen Echo drugstore. I suggest we carry something for insect bites with the first aid.

Wednesday -- September 13, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls:     Water Temperature:

Rene Dunham is in charge of the Island, and the log, while staff is on vacation:

Another delicious morning swim. The river is so gentle. After breakfast, a slow, quiet walk along the upstream paths. Silly me - even though I know better, I expected the same things to happen today as yesterday; I looked for the dancing snake and the green herons as if they were stationary street signs in my neighborhood. But I had to substitute watching an insect of wasp proportions searching about on the ground. For what? Without my reading glasses I couldn't see what was causing it to topple onto its head occasionally. When it divided into two insects, one flying off the other, I decided to stick to large print.

Crack! I looked in the direction of the sound to see a doe leap through a thicket of tall flowers with dry, fallen limbs in the underbrush. Then it was out of sight. I started walking in her direction, but then decided to let it be. A deer on Sycamore Island! An exciting little secret. The closest similar feeling was when I was pregnant and walking around with internal giggles.

John Krasny ran the ferry for me later at 1 PM during the Old Timers picnic. He insisted I go kayaking, bless his heart. What he gave me was the opportunity to see a deer mid-river swimming toward Rupert's Island to graze on its shore.

Maybe eight people appeared for the picnic. I don't feel like checking the ferry log right now for the exact count. When I returned from kayaking, picnic leftovers were offered to me and to you and Phyllis. You Buddhists have a really good thing going. You don't even have to go on the road with your bowls in hand.

People are vying to stock the staff refrigerator with treats. Nearly everyone is wanting to talk about Blair Bowers motion. Opinion ranges all over the board. I'm hoping to clear my own mind about it by writing.

Marianne left this morning and Jane Winer will stay with me tonight. Barney goes after Ms. T's canned fish immediately after finishing her own. Ms. T is so nonchalant about coming for her portion that I have taken to bringing it to her and putting it in front of her nose.

Thursday -- September 14, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.00     Water Temperature: not given

Staff has returned from three days of vacation to find everything shipshape as though we had never left. Kudos to Rene Dunham and friends who stayed so that we could play. Everything went so well in the absence of staff that the Caretaker is suffering from acute depression due to diminished self-importance.

Friday -- September 15 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.07     Water Temperature: 77

The white flowers covering the Island are white snakeroot. They have a gentle fragrance, noticeable mostly early or late in the day. Already the first signs of yellowing can be seen across the river, and as the cold front moving in will keep tomorrows temps below 70 degrees, there can no longer be any doubt that the seasons are changing right on schedule.

Saturday -- September 16, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.13     Water Temperature: 73

Just like the almanac instructed, grass seed was put down just after Labor Day. And despite the absence of rain, we were amazed to see yesterday that little shoots were up everywhere on the main lawn... noticeable especially where the creeping Charlie has died back mysteriously and there had formerly been only bare patches. Visitors to the Island will notice that these bare areas with new grass emerging have been roped off, and also indications of hose and sprinkler being used lovingly.

Johnna Robinson has called to report that a knowledgeable friend has suggested that the ubiquitous vine that has appeared everywhere is probably the bur cucumber... which should reassure all of you who have commented just how like a cucumber it looks. To those of you worried that it seems this year to surpass even kudzu as a threat to trees and herbaceous perennials... Johnna points out that it probably just has been excited by all this year's rain, and certainly that sounds right, because we do not recall seeing it before this year. This plant favors stream banks and is allegedly non-noxious.

For the first time we have noticed carp among the gang of fish that hang out under the Captain's float. Previously, all the big fish were catfish, but the numbers of catfish seem to have dwindled since certain Members have fished there on Sundays, when your anal Caretaker was not around to remind folks that those are tame fish... fed daily to ensure there is always a good show for small children. To be clear... the only fishing to be allowed from the Captain's float is by very small children who have never caught a fish before. The purpose is to allow children of all ages the thrill of seeing many various fish as though in a natural aquarium. The justification for such a hard-nosed attitude is the disappearance of all but one of the large catfish... taken by fishers.

Monday -- September 18, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.72     Water Temperature: 69

The big activity down here continues to be dragging the hose and sprinkler about to get the seed to sprout and put down a rootlet before the rains come wash the seeds about and into clumps that correspond to where puddles collected or rivulets ran. Always before the seeding was attempted to correspond to periods of rain, and the results were not always satisfactory.

Notice that the river water temperature has dropped below 70 degrees for the first time following summer, and 8 degrees just since Friday.

Tuesday -- September 19, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.0     Water Temperature: 70

There has been much interest in the trove of old pictures from the Island's past contributed by Peggy Thomson. These have been the pre-meeting entertainment of the last two monthly meetings, and as they were left upstairs, many have enjoyed poking through them since. David Winer came down yesterday to take another batch home to scan and digitize. His goal is not only to use some in the Islander, but also to put them on a CD for permanent archival purposes. Any of you out there who may have or know of old pictures from the distant past suitable for inclusion are encouraged to contact either David Winer (301-229-8963) or the Caretaker.

Wednesday -- September 6, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.1     Water Temperature: 67

Inspecting the grounds after yesterday's pounding rains turned out to be a teaching on the ephemeral qualities of grass. When we came here after the '96 floods the Island was a mud wasteland in which what ever had been a lawn was buried beneath several inches of sediment. Exposed to the skies, every hard rain seemed to "melt" the Island, as there was no vegetative cover to contain erosion. Seeing the amount of dirt running off into the river, the cause of restoring a green lawn, preferably with a grass cover that would not interfere with the spring wildflowers, was taken up with a passion. Thus we are sad to report that the pounding rain of yesterday obliterated several sections that had been seeded last week. This is especially true where the ground was bereft of any cover at all. Putting one's eye to the ground at a bare spot is like looking at the moon's surface in miniature... where the hard-hitting droplets cratered the bare ground like some massive, miniature asteroid strike. Further, even some of those places where careful watering had established inch high grass seedlings that might withstand these rains were washed away.

Even though it supposedly takes ten days for mosquitoes to go through their egg to adult cycle, it is amazing how they seem to emerge in great numbers following a rain. Early this morning it was difficult to stay out any time, as they were frenzied with a desire for Caretaker blood. One must remember that this urge of theirs is not a hunger drive but a sex drive, putting the "frenzy" part of this description in perspective, the blood being needed for new eggs.

Last night there were more heavy military choppers traveling close to the water below the heights of the gorge without running lights... only a red flasher. Funny how "some" folks are allowed to violate FAA regulations about flying inside city airspace that even the military are supposed to obey.

Thursday -- September 21, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 67

The Island has received the draft of the Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement for Glen Echo Park. This plan was two years in the making and presents "five alternatives that the National Park Service (NPS) considered for the management of resources and developed areas within Glen Echo Park: a No Action Alternative, an NPS Management Alternative, a Public Partnership Alternative, a Non-Profit Partnership Alternative, and a Modified Public Partnership Alternative."

Club Members should be mindful of the goings on at Glen Echo Park, as it is not only our very near neighbor, but also owner of the rail-bed right of way and bridge that we walk beneath when parking in the top lot. That bridge is in increasingly bad shape, and we quickly approach the time when repairing the bridge to make the thoroughfare beneath safe or closing it off may depend on the health of the Glen Echo Park budget... something to worry about.

Friday -- September 22, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 69

Notice !!! Those of you accustomed to having the Caretaker dash inside to check for regional radar on TV for approaching thunderstorms should be alerted to the fact that this is no longer an option on the Island. Although staff still enjoys satellite TV... necessary because broadcast TV does not work in the bottom of river gorges and cable companies do not pay to string cable across rivers... we have had to change systems because PrimeStar was bought out by DirectTV and closed out. Now we have less picture quality... reminds one of the Sony Beta system that lost out in the marketplace even though it was superior to the VCR format. Even worse, DirectTV does not have the constant regional radar loop to consult. I remember in Dallas one could always find the local airport weather radar picture on one of the cable channels... invaluable when considering outdoor activities at certain times of the year. Of course, one expects such common sense things in Texas.

The Caretaker's Wife has passed on a tidbit from a nursing magazine to the effect that according to new government research by the USDA, global warming causes ragweed to produce significantly more pollen as carbon dioxide increases. It was discovered that the weed makes twice as much pollen now as it did 100 years ago. Sufferers beware.

Saturday -- September 23, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 69

Bees abound... we do not recall seeing so many all year long. Of course, they have had all summer to breed up their numbers, but one wonders if it is the cool nights that are triggering some response causing them to work harder. The Island's fisher people are making a point to show up in numbers... despite the murky waters resulting from the recent rains... excitedly claiming that this is the best of times as the fish are in a frenzy to fatten up before the winter. This is undoubtedly true, but one imagines that the same seasonal trigger is causing a subconscious reminder that fishing days are numbered... so they must hurry to cast whilst they can.

Members are reminded if a large party on the Island this afternoon from 1300 hrs to 1800 hrs. Karl Kosak and Emily Glaser are sponsoring the Ethical Society.

Monday -- September 25, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.2     Water Temperature: 70

Yesterday we were again struck by the white snake root fragrance in the mid-afternoon, but by late afternoon it was gone. This was interesting to note as few flowers make a point of exuding perfume only in mid-day. One plant about to gush forth a heady scent is the cestrum nocturnum planted outside the screen porch. This is the tallish plant one sees on the right as one steps off of the wooden walkway and heads to the Captain's float. Commonly known as night blooming jasmine, it is not reliably hardy this far north, and thus it will be interesting to see if it survives. The Island has it because the Caretaker had given it to a friend as a house warming gift, but when it flowered it was so overpowering that the friend's wife made him take it outside, where it was neglected so badly for so long that in a spasm of guilt it was returned in order to save its life and hence comes to the Island as a refugee.

Tuesday -- September 19, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 70

We appreciate the calls of concern about whether the river is rising after these protracted hard rains, but we must report with astonishment that the river has risen only slightly and it does not appear from the NOAA river forecast that it will rise beyond 4.2 on Thursday.

The most exciting thing to happen today was receipt of Rene Dunham's entries to be included in the log during the staff vacation of 11 to 13 Sep. These have now been incorporated retroactively in the log, and everyone is encouraged to scroll back and check them out... and hopefully ignore the fact that these entries have raised the standard to which staff should aspire.

Wednesday -- September 27, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.8     Water Temperature: 61

Phil Thorson called today to report a conversation he had with Matt Barres of the Potomac conservancy regarding the area along MacArthur Blvd. that is devastated by kudzu. Matt has been able to identify the jurisdiction of the area as belonging to the George Washington memorial Parkway. The next step will be to contact Superintendent Audrey Calhoun at the Turkey Run Headquarters to plan some volunteer program for the spring. Phil spoke at the last monthly meeting on this problem and will be hoping for Islanders to join the effort to save the trees from the kudzu.

Notice the one day drop in river temperature of 9 degrees.

Thursday -- September 28, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 62

Today we received a shipment of water filters from the Duff Company (610-275-4453), a wholesale distributor in Norristown PA. We find that these seem to need replacement more frequently, about every three weeks, and relate this to last year's testing of the well that found high turbidity... meaning lots of sediment in the water.

Friday -- September 29, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 63

The geese are back. We have not seen them yet, but we have heard them... frolicsome last night at the foot of Ruppert's Island... and quarrelsome this morning at the foot of Sycamore... as though arguing where to go when they took off... as they must have as they were gone when we went to look for them.

For you fishers out there... notice that the river is high and thus running muddy... so this will be a good weekend to stay with the family.

Saturday -- September 30, 2000 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 62

A new and mysterious path has appeared at the top end of the Island. As one takes the lower path leaving the swimming dock area towards the tip of the Island, there is a place where the caretaker had cut a 10-foot side path so that flower lovers could walk into the bed of cardinal flowers next to the river. But this path ended 20 feet short of the riverbank. Where this path ended there is now a very wide, very serious continuance all the way to the river put there by someone... species unknown... for purposes unknown. It almost seems as though a canoe might have been pulled up there originally, yet it also seems to be well packed down and frequently used, although no tracks can be seen. The Caretaker is embarrassed to suppose how long it might have been there, as it may have been almost two weeks since this particular place on the Island was walked. Beaver would ordinarily be the prime suspects, but this path is very wide, and although a beaver was seen at 0630 hrs one recent morning, it was the first beaver sighting in a couple of months. Stay tuned.