Monday -- October 3, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.5     Water Temperature: 69

We had some early visitors here yesterday. Dave and Jane Winer hosted a bird-watching canoe trip and we all gathered here at 7:30. That's 7:30 Sunday morning! It was hard to get up but I had no regrets as we paddled through the mist towards Ruppert's island, cup of coffee between my knees. The low-angle light was perfect as we followed or leaders toward the Virginia Shore. The shallow river above Ruppert's looked like a cemetery full of odd-shaped tombstones and it took some skill to weave our boats between all the randomly scattered headstones. An osprey made itself known as we paddled upstream past sunning cormorants and stalking herons. We listened to carolina wrens, blue jays and woodpeckers as we scanned the sky for chimney swifts and wood ducks. I found it hard to keep my eyes to the sky and not on the river bottom. The novelty of this super-clear and shallow water has not worn off for me and I'm constantly amazed at the now-revealed world below the surface. We floated downstream back toward the Island as we basked in the warming sun, a kingfisher zipped by. Soon we were on the clubhouse deck enjoying the yummy coffee and lemon-poppyseed danishes that Dave and Jane brought to share. Thanks guys, for getting me out of bed.

Tuesday -- October 4, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 69

We don't usually host campers on a Monday night but it was great to see a campfire again and the weather was so nice.

I found an antique bottle. It looks like an old milk bottle but a little fancier, almost like a vase. I found it sticking out of the bank by the swim float. I tried to move it but it was stuck, intertwined with roots about two feet below the soil surface. How old must it be if it is part of the early roots of a very old sycamore?

Wednesday -- October 5, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 70

Today we have an office of the world bank coming down for lunch. Tomorrow we have one hundred children from Lowell School coming down for their annual event and then on Friday there is another group coming down for an awards ceremony at breakfast time. I hope the weather holds out for all of these large parties.

I don't know where they go but all the toads that were everywhere are gone.

Friday -- October 7, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 73

Ok, it's not an awards ceremony it's a wedding ceremony that we're having here today. Unfortunately it looks like the dry weather is over and this ceremony is going to be a memorably wet one. This will be only the second wedding on the island as far as I know. The other wedding was twenty five years ago and a sycamore was planted as part of the occasion.

Yesterday was the annual visit by Lowell School. It was fun to see all the kids (90 of them) some of whom have been here three times now. They played a lot of learning games and I was able to take them in small groups for nature hikes around the island. We observed and identified many types of flora and fauna and we were lucky enough to find a tree full of ripe paw-paws which the kids hesitantly tasted. It was so awesome to share sycamore island with these kids and watch them experience it for the first time.

Saturday -- October 8, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.4     Water Temperature: 73


Sunday -- October 9, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 68


Somehow the river never rose above five feet and now its headed down again. They're predicting another spike tonight but I don't know whether to trust them or not, I've been burned by their predictions twice now.

I did a lot of unnecessary flood preparations yesterday but after the river went from 2.5 feet up to 5.5 feet and raining the way it was who could blame me. A tree fell on MacArthur, blocking the boulevard and causing more flooding to the already flooded street. Walhounding creek was a rushing torrent causing enough erosion to fell a tree across the canal which was flooded to the brim as well. I returned to the island in the pouring rain to find faithful relief caretakers Bill and Jane Hill manning the island despite the rising water. They had trouble knowing whether to come down or not and I wasn't home so they could not reach me. The fact that the Island phone went dead added to the problem.

About the phone, I think I found the problem and once things dry out it should work fine. I'm sorry if you have been trying to reach me but keep trying the phone seems to be working for now. I'm going to have to replace that outdoor line. Anyone want to help me?

Monday -- October 10, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.8     Water Temperature: 67

Everything is getting back to normal here, the sun trying to break through the clouds and you don't need a step ladder to get off the ferry.

I'm worried that relief caretakers don't have an emergency number to call. I think they should all have my cell phone number, maybe post it in the red notebook.

Tuesday -- October 11, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.6     Water Temperature: 67

With the way the rain is coming down I doubt I'll get any visitors today. This will give me time to finish decluttering and painting my dining room/office.

We had some new members down here enjoying the island yesterday. It's great to see new faces and I think they had a good time despite the overcast skies, but damn I wish people would treat the pool table better and remember to cover it when they are done.

Wednesday -- October 12, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 67

There is a club meeting on the island tonight, 8:00. I'll try to get the lights on the trail working by the time people start arriving but bring your flashlights, just in case.

Thursday -- October 13, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.3     Water Temperature: 67

Swimming season just might be over now, it's always rainy and cloudy and the river is cold and muddy.

There was a good turn out for the meeting last night and there was a first-timmer there as well. Everyone should come to a meeting sometime, if for no other reason than to see the beauty of the river at night.

Sunday -- October 16, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.0     Water Temperature: 66

Its a beautiful and brisk fall day. The sun is shining but the wind is blowing so strong that I may not get a lot of visitors today.

A bald eagle flew close over me as I stood on the canoe float this morning. I saw one yesterday, maybe the same one, as I paddled down from Angler's Inn. We were just coming up to the first riffles on the left of Offit island when the eagle swooped and banked above us. It's always a good sign when you see an eagle on the river and seeing that white tail and head in the bright sunlight was inspiring.

I haven't seen our deer lately, I hope it wasn't hit by a car.

Monday -- October 17, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.9     Water Temperature: 67

Island member Ed Hertz brought down his kayak yesterday. It's a beautiful boat made of mahogany plywood and Ed built it himself over the summer.

Tuesday -- October 18, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.9     Water Temperature: 64

No wind yet, could be a perfect day for boating.

There are lots of black walnuts everywhere on the island in case anyone wants to help collect them for the "Growing Native" project. There is a collection site close by at lock house eight.

Wednesday -- October 19, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.9     Water Temperature: 64

This morning, just after dawn, I walked down to the captains float. The silhouette of a grebe hurriedly bobbed up river, ruffling the still water as it swam through the light mist. The mallards and geese were less startled by my presence and slowly swam away from shore. The moon, flanked by a brilliant Jupiter, cast long shadows as the sun turned the sky into an artist's pallet of purples, yellows and blues.

The weather has been great but if you're counting visitors, the beaver outnumber the humans by far.

Thursday -- October 20, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.8     Water Temperature: 63

I finally finished fixing all the bricks that make up the locker room floor, that was a dirty job. I'm still working on installing cinder blocks along the back of the house to frustrate the ground hogs and help insulate the bathroom.

I was so hot and dirty after all that work that I decided to jump in the river. It was a numbing experience.

Friday -- October 21, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.8     Water Temperature: 63

No school today so the kids and I are off to hills of Virginia for a little camping. We're going to Elizabeth's Furnace campground in what Gerry Barton called Fort valley. Its between Massanutten mountain and Green mountain on Passage Creek. One of the members was nice enough to watch the island for me, see you Sunday

Monday -- October 24, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.0     Water Temperature: 59

Great time at Elizabeth's Furnace despite the rain and next time we'll have to bring the fishing gear, passage creek was full of trout.

One of the guests caught a bass here yesterday. I recommended casting off the canoe dock toward the rocks in the channel and presto he reels in a twelve-incher. I was very surprised.

I want to say hello to all the readers of Washingtonian Magazine who might be visiting this site for the first time. I'm not sure if I like the label of "Hardest Club To Join" but I guess it's true.

Tuesday -- October 25, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 56

It's raining quite a bit but so far no flood predictions. The river should reach 4.5 feet by tomorrow.

The phone isn't working again and now I'm positive that it has something to do with the rain. I tried to figure out the problem last time it rained but couldn't. I suppose we'll have to call a phone man or an electrician to come down and take care of it.

Wednesday -- October 26, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.8     Water Temperature: 53

I'm going up to lockhouse eight for a little while today. After a heavy rain, like we had yesterday, the cellar there gets flooded and it's my job to hook the generator up to the sump pump and pump all the water out.

There will be vigils held tonight at 6:30 for the 2000 U.S. troops killed in Iraq. Check out

Thursday -- October 27, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 52

It's a beautiful autumn day. I'm surprised that the leaves haven't changed more, the black walnuts are done of course but the silver maples are still green. I read the log from last year and all the leaves were down by early November.

Friday -- October 28, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 52

Monday -- October 31, 2005
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 50

Happy Halloween!

No halloween parties on the island this year but maybe we'll make a big fire and roast marshmallows, give me a call if you're interested. It looks like the weather will be perfect.