April 2007

Monday -- April 2, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.4     Water Temperature: 55

The first of the Blue Bells are blooming as well as trout lilly (yellow and white) dutchman's britches, spring beauties and violets. The tiny young leaves of our summer flower, the jewel weed, have emerged as well.

Ground hogs, how do they find their way back under my kitchen every year. I think it means that mammals, in general, are probably more aquatic than we realize. (i.e. swimming squirrels)

Wednesday -- April 4, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.3     Water Temperature: 55

It's bluebell time!!
If you don't know what that means you need to be on the Island this weekend.

The sun finally came out late this afternoon and it inspired me to get out. I thought it would be fun to take a sunset run over at Turkey Run Park. I didn't think twice about jumping into a boat and paddling the 400 yards of river between me and the Virginia shore. I got into a canoe and had no trouble heading down river toward the foot of the Island with the 10 mph wind at my back. The last rays of the sun hit me in the face as I rounded the Island. The black silhouettes of the cormorants filed past me, their effortless flight gave no hint of the powerful wind they were headed into. The river had no visible signs of strong winds either so I went for the other side. The wind was blowing from the west/northwest, straight down river, and when I was away from the shadow of the Island the 10 mph breeze became a steady 15-20 mph wind with sudden gusts of 30 mph. No whitecaps but a good steady train on one foot waves was knocking on my bow. I didn't debate it for more than a second, time to turn back. At this point I was down river from the Island but only about 100 yards away. Sometimes a gust would come from an unexpected direction, pushing the canoe frantically into the waves causing my heart to beat faster. I tied the long painter from the bow to my PFD, I didn't want my boat to sail away from me if I got knocked out by a wave. With slow and steady strokes and without panic I made it, eventually, back to the relative shelter of the slough. Winded (no pun intended) and a little sore in the shoulders I paddled back to the Island in the fading light. Maybe another day I'll go for a sunset run at Turkey Run.

Saturday -- April 14, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 55

The workfest scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed until the 22nd of April.

Monday -- April 16, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.9     Water Temperature: 55

I came real close to keeping the kids home today. The high water coupled with the strong winds had me nervous about going anywhere today, but the bark was worse than the bite and we made it across the windswept channel without incident. I'm dreading this week though, the river is supposed to crest at nine feet on Wednesday and the wind promises to be a worrisome factor until then as well. Can't wait until May, maybe things will be better by then. This weather has caused another problem too, the phones are out. I had to unplug my line because it just kept ringing for no reason, and the island phone is dead as well. The DSL seems to be OK.

Its really a shame but besides me and my underappreciative children, only a very small number of you have seen the bluebells this year. They are at full blossom now and I hope the flood waters recede enough to allow people to see them before they fade.

The eagles have at least one chick in the nest and the adults are very busy keeping their offspring fed. One day I watched as the eagle tried to grab a wood duck out of the water over by the Captain's float, amazing!

Tuesday -- April 17, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 9.4     Water Temperature: 48

It looks like the river will crest before it hits that 10 foot bench mark that makes this an official flood. It may not be an official flood but the river is pretty much in my back yard right now, I just had to paddle through the blue bells to get to the first dry spot on the board walk.

I lifted all the ropes as high as I could but the cable to the trail lights must have been hit by a branch because it was dangling IN the river this morning. I managed to lasso it from the mainland and pull it to safety, about three feet above the water. I also adjusted the ferry; I disconnected the chain from one end of the ferry and refastened it so that there where two chains at the bow and the ferry was then pointed into the current rather than perpendicular to it. This is much better for the equipment and reduces the amount of debris collected there.

The phones are still out, we had no power for a while. We stayed in Arlinton last night and will again tonight and tomorrow. I'll be checking on things in the morning and afternoon.

Friday -- April 20, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.0     Water Temperature: 50

It is truly remarkable, the level of unpredictability around here during high water. I raised the rope before the flood to avoid the trees coming down river but somehow the rope was snagged from above and was pulled very high up into the trees. My only guess is that the wind was so strong that it pushed the tentacle-like branches of a sycamore down which then hooked the rope. Probably impossible with any other tree but the sycamores are able to branch out at such right angles that they become ready-made hooks. I was starting to get really concerned about how to get the rope down; can't use the ferry without the rope, can't get the rope without the ferry. This morning I boarded the ferry and without knowing what might happen I headed for the middle of the river. The tension increased rapidly as the heavy current sent me headlong toward the other side. Soon I was in a tug-a-war with the sycamore and I was afraid of which would break first the railing on the ferry or the branch of the sycamore. Suddenly, SNAP, and the rope was free and I was still standing on the ferry. Whew, glad that's over with.

I realized last night that the trail lights are not working. I can't say I'm surprised since that cable took such a beating during the flood. I think I found the problem though and as soon as I can use the ferry I'll have to bring a ladder over to the mainland and rewire one of the electric boxes.

Workfest on Sunday!

Friday -- April 27, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.3     Water Temperature: 60

They're working on the old rusted-out trestle at the top of the hill. After inspection, they found it necessary to prop up the base of the old bridge with railroad ties and 2x4's. Not a very reassuring sign for a structure we have to walk under everyday. On the other hand, it's nice to know that somebody is paying attention to that trestle. They are now in the process of welding steel reinforcements to replace the parts of the bridge that have rusted through. That right-of-way is owned by Metro so it was Metro employees doing the work.

The blue bells are on their way out, their blossoms falling as the trees fill with leaves. Their beauty and allure is enhanced by their brief appearance on this stage of seasons and they leave us with only a promise of return.