Friday -- November 1, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.3     Water Temperature: 48

First of all I have to correct something I wrote yesterday. There are Paw Paw trees on the island. I can't see any from my window but there's a substantial grove of young trees at the head of the island. They are growing in a tight cluster free of any other species.

The river level is the highest I've seen it since I started here in August. This isn't really saying much but for the first time as I look out from the swimming dock the surface of the river remains unbroken all the way to Virginia. Gone are the mini islands that were so often my destination while swimming on those tranquil, cloudless days of summer. I am also learning that you can't trust entirely the official forecasts on river levels. The water level now is almost 4.5 feet, considerably higher than yesterdays forecst for today.

Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 46

Tuesday -- November 5, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 48

Election Day. How is the Island Log and my observations of the natural world tied into politics? Thomas Jefferson felt that nationalism in America could be expressed through nature. Regardless of our poitics or party affiliation we can all appreiciate the beauty and uniqueness of the the American landscape. Especially here, where things are so political. What could inspire more nationalistic pride than a Bald eagle soaring over the historic Potomac river.

Wednesday -- November 6, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 48

I finally had a face to face encounter with a beaver. My first since moving into their neighborhood three months ago. I had seen their footprints in the mud at the bottom of the island and just last week I saw, for the first time, a small sapling felled by a beaver here on the island. But no sign of the beaver presence I had expcted.

What surprised me the most about my encounter was the reaction of the beaver. I was exploring the mouth of Cabin John creek when I saw it. I assumed that it hadn't seen me for it did not try to swim away. I quickly realized that it had seen me and was watching me as it swam in menacing circles in the middle of the creek. On the right bank I noticed another beaver coming out of a den. Suddenly the silence is broken by that trademark beaver tail-slap and the two beaver disappear into the black water. I playfully slapped back with my paddle and hear a third beaver splash into the river! Three beaver and a den in broad daylight at the mouth of this urban stream, amazeing!

Thursday -- November 7, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.8     Water Temperature: 47

The wind and rain of the last two days has made a noticable difference down here. The ground is blanketed by the fallen leaves of the sycamores and some trees like the Boxelder have been left completely leafless. Though without it's leaves the Boxelder still clutches to it's bunches of the distinctive, seed bearing, winged fruit call keys. Like the related maples the Boxelder can be tapped in the winter for its sweetish sap to make syrup.

Friday -- November 8, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.7     Water Temperature: 46

Saturday -- November 9, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 48

The work shed became an impromptu observation deck yesterday as I watched a pair of Hermit Thrushes scour the ground for insects below me. Ruby-Crowned Kinglets have also been recent visitors here.

Monday -- November 11, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 52

Tuesday -- November 12, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.0     Water Temperature: 54

Yellow leaves are everywhere, suddenly changeing the landscape like an over night snow storm.

A dramatic, foggy sunset on the river last night. A light mist quickly grew into a thick cloud just above the surface of the water looking like small rolling white hills against a backdrop of orange and gold. Soon the fog grew thick and engulfed the entire island. The veiw of the river had become a shapeless void broken occasionally by low angle laser beams of sunlight slicing between the clouds. As the sun sank lower the sky changed from a soft pink to peach to orange all the while charging the mist with its subtle hues until everything was shrouded in a colorful haze.

Thursday -- November 14, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.0     Water Temperature: 51

The leaves and the clouds are gone and the island is bathed in sunlight.

Friday -- November 15, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.0     Water Temperature: 50

The river is a little high but the ferry will continue to operate all day. River levels are expected to go back down to four feet tomorrow.

Earlier in April American Rivers released its list of Most Endangered Rivers of 2002. Here they are; Missouri, Big Sunflower(MS), Klamath(OR), Kansas, White(AR), Powder(WY), Altamaha(GA), Allagash Waterway(ME), (Canning(AK), Guadalupe(TX), Apalachicola(FL). Of course the greatest threat to these rivers is the Army Corp of Engineers.

Saturday -- November 16, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.0     Water Temperature: 51

The river is a little high but the ferry will be operating today. River levels are expected to continue to rise so the ferry may be closed tomorrow, you may want to call before you come down.

Exciting new developement, the trail between MacArthur and the old tressle has been regraveled! The difference it makes is amazing, its as if a new, smooth super highway has been built where before there was only an old dirt road.

Monday -- November 18, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 49

The ferry will be operating all day today despite the slightly high river levels. It's a little too windy for canoeing but it is a nice clear day to be on the island.

Tuesday -- November 19, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.4     Water Temperature: 47

With the river up like it is and all the trees bare I am somehow more acutely aware that I live on an island and I am completely surrounded by water.

There were half a dozen very tame Canada geese grazing on the lawn this morning. I was almost able to touch them before they flew back into the river.

It has been fun for the girls and I to watch the river rise and count the number of steps that are under water. This is my first week with the river over five feet but the river will peak today and the ferry will remain open.

Wednesday -- November 20, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.4     Water Temperature: 45

The river got up over five and a half feet yesterday evening and I was surprised at how much of the head of the island was inundated with water. I walked up there to discover submerged banks and even some of the trails were under water.

Thursday -- November 21, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.1     Water Temperature: 43

The sunshine yesterday brought out some island visitors. Nice to have company on the island for a change.

The excitement yesterday was watching four zodiac motor boats from the rescue squad buzzing up and down and around the island. I guess they were training.

Friday -- November 22, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 44

A mysterious thing happened yesterday. I found a fourteen inch catfish lying on top of the leaves over by the swim ming dock about twenty yards from the river. I stared at it dumbfounded quickly eliminating possibilities. It didn't crawl there, the river level hadn't reached anywhere near there so it wasn't beached, and no one has fished here in over a week. As I took a closer look I noticed there were puncture wounds, two on the back about three inches apart and two on the belly just below the first two. Do we have river otters!? If it was an otter why then didn't it eat the fish? My only other clues are that on the night before in the dim light of the moon I saw the wake of something swimming along the south shore of the island between the two floats headed up stream. At the time I assumed it was a beaver swimming by with it's head out of the water. Now I wonder if I had seen an otter. Maybe my coming and going had startled it away from it's catch. There was one other time a couple of weeks ago that I thought I might have seen an otter. It was the same kind of head with a wake but something about the way it dove and resurfaced several times made it seem more slender and agile than a beaver. Also I didn't notice the large flat tail as it arched away from the surface. But again, because I didn't get a close look I dismissed it as a beaver,now I wonder. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, has anyone seen otters down here?

Monday -- November 25, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.4     Water Temperature: 42

The work fest was a big success. The island is looking ready for winter. There were some chores that we didn't get to so if you want to pitch in I can give you a fun job to do.

I'm looking out my window at a Carolina Wren, a very active and vocal bird. The change in seasons doesn't seem to affect its enthusiasm for singing.

Tuesday -- November 26, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.3     Water Temperature: 46

Kaylen found a sycamore leaf that was 16"across and 12" long! There is quite a variety of leaves that fall from one sycamore. Some large some small, some with many peaks and some with so few peaks they resemble sweetgum leaves.

Tuesday -- November 27, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 45

Well, we were hoping for snow down here but I'm afraid that its a little early for snow yet. I must say that the wind today made it seem much colder than 40 degrees my thermometer shows.

There's lots of activity on the canal this week. Quite a few trucks on the towpath. They seem to be doing some kind of repair with all the water drained from the canal between lock 7 and lock 8.

Friday -- November 29, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 42

Saturday -- November 30, 2002
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.8     Water Temperature: 40