Thursday -- December 6, 2001 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.7     Water Temperature: 53

Another incredible day... shorts along the towpath... short sleeves on the Island... there are locust trees still tinged with green and mulberry trees still clinging to yellow leaves. Bill Bays and friend John are out fishing as though it were late summer... and with temperatures forecast to be 74 degrees the weather is all anybody can talk about.

The Log should note that the Island computer has not been able to dial onto the web since last Friday. Calls to Verizon resulted in a recording that acknowledges problems... but these days dialing any tech support number is always a roll of the dice on whether one will hear a human voice before the cordless handset battery fails.

Johnna Robinson came down yesterday with a hickory nut with a characteristic round hole chewed in it as an example of a tell tale of the nocturnal flying squirrel. Although the island abounds with hickory trees, no such elusive critters have yet been noted, but the tell tale example will be left upstairs near the bulletin board for any interested investigators.

Friday -- December 7, 2001 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 53

Despite the wintry look and feel of this dreary looking day... the temperatures belie the seasonal change, as this will be yet another uncharacteristically warm day... air temps in the mid 60's. Of more interest is the water temperature... which normally rises through the 50's in April... but by November a year ago it had already dropped back into the 30's. Note today's river temperature! Ground water is surely Mother Nature's lifeblood... and the anomaly of this year's unprecedented Indian summer is clearly an indicator that something strange is afoot in the climate cycle.

After the '96 floods had washed the old canoe shed downriver, Captain Matthews had a new power line trenched and buried and run down to the grandfather walnut tree growing in the center of the lawn to serve as a power source for construction of the new canoe shed. This line has now been further trenched and run into the canoe shed... and anyone looking for the outlet will now find it installed near canoe rack J1. This will afford the ground fault outlet much more protection from the weather.

The Log should further note that yesterday Bill Bays caught a 9-inch small mouth bass. Despite the fact of the Club canoes being locked up when the water temps dropped below 55 degrees... and remember that Fletcher's Boathouse locks up when the water temperature drops below 60 degrees... several people had their own boats on the water yesterday.

Monday -- December 10, 2001 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.7     Water Temperature: 50

Recent rains have not raised the river level... meaning that the Island is as still as large as it gets. It is possible to walk dry footed to the small Isle upriver between the Island and the towpath, and again several Members have mused about how nice it would be to build up that area so that there could be a permanent connection. But this is only because the river has been so low for so long that memories do not stretch to the normal situation... where there is two feet of water to wade through to the isle. In that area it is possible to walk from rock to rock far into the river and count the river clams or mussel shells that are the broken remains of diners of unknown identity... but their numbers speak to the health of the river.

The low water means that the kid clubhouse constructed near the bottom of the Island of driftwood against the horizontal mulberry tree continues to stand... and it is a testament to last year's mild winter in high water terms that it is still there... despite the Caretaker's prediction that it would not last the winter's high waters. Will it still be there next spring???

Tuesday -- December 11, 2001 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.7     Water Temperature:

Perennially there is the seemingly new discovery of sound in the winter when the leaves are off the trees. With the buffering effect removed, things of the city seem not only louder but also closer. What happened to the "quiet"? This effect is enhanced by the fact that the green leafed privacy screen is gone, and suddenly one realizes that there are houses and roads with autos... why... just over there!!!

Still... in this Indian summer it is still possible to pretend that the outside world and its concerns do not intrude... to be able to still sit out and remark on such a beautiful evening... the river... the viewscape... the many blackhawks thundering by.

Wednesday -- December 12, 2001 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.8     Water Temperature: 48

Certain officers have strongly objected that the Caretaker keeps minimal heat on in the warm room... enough to keep the room above freezing. Accordingly... the heater has been removed except on Sundays and any Members wishing to visit the Island during the cold season will have to fend for themselves.

The Log would like to note a mention of appreciation for the left-handers that must sign the ferry log. Talk about an anonymous minority... as one notices the awkwardness with which they deal with the ferry log... one realizes that their daily life must be one contortion after another to cope with the "right-handed" world. And yet, the log as currently designed is wonderfully clever, especially as an intelligent remedy for the previously wide open situation in which the log had to be found "somewhere else" on the Island to sign... and enforcement was not possible and thus not monitored. Thus the Club was frequently vulnerable to liability exposure from visitors and guests. Although we now take it for granted... the ferry log has not yet reached its five year anniversary.

Thursday -- December 13, 2001 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.7     Water Temperature: 48

All is sepia tones in the river gorge today. Especially it is a day to appreciate the sycamore trees. Looking across the distance towards the Virginia shore the bare white trunks stand out... and when the mist rises a few feet above the water they look all for the world like the skeleton of some lost civilization... calling to mind the mists of Avalon. When the clouds drop low and skim the ridge separating the riverbank from the CIA headquarters... they look like white bones stretching into the clouds and holding up the world.

Friday -- December 14, 2001 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.8     Water Temperature: 48

Still on the Island there is deciduous green hanging on. The two willow trees planted by Mardy Burgess' Quaker Sunday school yet have green mixed with the yellowing leaves. The last to go... they will be the first to come in the spring. And surprisingly... last year we wintered over in the quarters an avocado plant. On whim it was stuck in the ground in the spring and has not compelled much attention until now... because it is still a glorious green as though still in southern California. Of course... down here there is always some new wonderment... as the passing of the seasons makes real the Marcel Proust comment that the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

Monday -- December 17, 2001 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.8     Water Temperature: 48

Ahhh... to be outside... under the sky... on a balmy December evening!! Is the planet getting warmer or not?? Without leaves and with a bare aspect to the gorge at night it is easier to see the big dark things that fly in the night, usually but not always great blue herons commuting amongst feeding areas. Having recently re-read The Fellowship of the Ring in preparation top see the movie... the appearance of big dark things that fly in the night can be startling.

Late on the same Friday night we were startled in bed by a loud voice on the towpath yelling, "Bear... bear." Well... you can be sure we were at the windows quickly... and the voice did after a few times seem more to be calling than warning... but it was a relief nonetheless to see signs posted the next morning asking folks to be on the lookout for a lost dog named Bear.

Sunday morning the river was covered with foam... and here by covered we mean perhaps 5 to 10 percent... which is a lot. From the wooden walkway one could not be sure it was not small floating ice on the river... the river is often looks similar when covered with small patches of ice before freezing...and we had go down and check to be sure. Interestingly enough... there was no foam in the slough on the Maryland side of the river.

Tuesday -- December 18, 2001 -- The Club is OPEN
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.8     Water Temperature: 48

The Caretaker will be on vacation for the holidays but the Island will be ably manned by M. Green. The Log will return next year unless something untoward requires an official entry before then.

A friend described a scene in which he was driving down the road in his van... kid seat mounted... Xmas tree tied to the top... son's first bicycle boxed in back... OBX decal displayed... American flag on his antenna... carols on the radio... realizing that he not only fit the Norman Rockwell Christmas picture profile... he was the profile! And was content.

In these difficult times, we at the Island wish you all a happy holiday season and the good fortune to find your own Norman Rockwell Christmas.