September 2007

Friday -- September 7, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 80

Its the year of the grass. I've never seen grass growing in the river here near the island before this year. I don't know if it's the clear water allowing the sunlight in or what but this grass is everywhere.

I just finished painting the canoe shed roofs. It was a big job but things went smoothly and now we have a nice green roof that will be protected for a long time. The siding on the tool shed is my next project, should be finished by the end of this weekend. I'm also redoing the screen door to the clubhouse. I stripped all the paint from it and now I'm going to repaint it and install new screens. A lot of work for one door but worth it. They don't make sturdy screen doors like this one anymore.

Sunday -- September 9, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 81

A tree-sized branch broke from the sycamore by the board walk. It was quite a crash when the 18 inch-diameter branch hit the ground. Time to get the chain saw put again. It's funny, a big branch fell last Saturday as well. That one fell by the canoe dock, no storm or wind, just falling branches.

I haven't seen a ground hog in months but I guess its too much to hope they've left the island. The mice have been chewing on my wallpaper table. I have a folding table made for hanging wallpaper and it seems the mice are chewing all the residual wallpaper paste off of it.

Tuesday -- September 11, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 81

The rain hasn't affected the river much. The only difference I see from yesterday is that now there are small pieces of grass floating everywhere. They look like lawn mower clippings scattered across the surface of the river.

The rain was too much for our "Flamingo Hut", the blue table awning by the fire pit was crushed by the weight of the rain water trapped in the tarp.

I just received a copy of the written report describing the archaeological dig that took place on Ruppert's in the sixties. Its interesting to read about how these islands were used as work stations for making pottery and stone points for thousands of years. Thousands!

I saw a warbler today. First of the migrants I think. I saw it on the NIH campus. It had flown into a window and was slightly stunned. I couldn't resist picking it up and feeling its feathery weightlessness. How can such a tiny bird travel so far? I thought I would have no trouble identifying it when I got home but these fall warblers all look the same. I'm going with orange-crowned warbler.

I saw a humming bird. It was buzzing up the canal, sampling the orange jewel weed growing along the canal. Flower by flower this tiny bird worked its way up river.

Wednesday -- September 12, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 81

The good weather brought out the fishermen. I have three boats out right now and I had one this morning.

I saw a rare sight last night as I was swimming. Four great white egrets perched together high over the river on the Maryland bank. I love seeing those bright white birds, I hope they decide to stay here.

I'm finally finished painting my door. Now I'm ready to put on the screening.

Friday -- September 14, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 78

Another large branch fell. This one fell on the trail some time overnight.

It suddenly seems like its getting dark very early. I looked up the time of sunset, 7:18! That means its dark by 7:45.

Don't forget that Frank Despitt will be conducting a canoe class here tomorrow morning. He's going to show us how to paddle a swamped canoe.

Sunday -- September 16, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.7     Water Temperature: 73

I hung my screen door. Yea!

Tuesday -- September 18, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 70

The swimming season is going to come to an abrupt end if this cold weather continues. I jumped in yesterday evening and I was amazed at how much colder the water was. What a difference a day makes. And what a difference five degrees makes.

I did swim long enough to see the egrets perched in their spot above the river.

Thursday -- September 20, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 70

I can't get over all this river grass everywhere. I went out canoeing late yesterday and it was like paddling through a kelp forest. The grass is thick out there and some of the plants must be at least six feet tall. Someone called it star grass, the flowers resemble tiny yellow stars.

I'm going fishing tonight. I want to catch a few more fish before the season ends.

Saturday -- September 22, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.6     Water Temperature: 70

Well, the fish don't seem to be biting like they were. You can still catch fish but you have to work at it.

There are actually three types of grass growing under the ferry. There is the star grass that I mentioned as well as wild celery and a third that might be common water weed or hydrilla.

Generally, low water is a caretakers dream but low water can cause problems for the ferry. One low-water hazard is submerged trees. The water is so low now that sometimes the pontoons get stuck on the submerged trees by the landing.
Yesterday I decided to try and move the trees to make a path for the ferry. My first idea was to try and push the offending branch into deeper water and out of the way. So with a sturdy rope in hand I jumped off the ferry and lassoed the big end of the branch. The branch didn't look too big and I thought that if I was able to pull it over a little it mighjt slide into deeper water and out of the way. Unfortunately the branch was wedged and I couldn't budge it. Then I though that I could cut one of the limbs and that would allow it to sink. I went back to the tool shed and got a bow saw. While standing on the log with the water up to my waist I began sawing into the limb. I was surprised at how well the saw was cutting, I've never tried to saw under water before. I guess that new blade really helped. Things were going smoothly until I was about three quarters of the way through and the saw got stuck, jammed between the two pieces of wood. I struggled for a long time, pulling and jumping and cursing until I got smart and took my weight off of the tree. While lying on the ferry I was able to yank the saw free.
I finished cutting the branch from the ferry. I tied a rope around the freshly cut end and dragged the offending branch out to sea, well, out into the deeper part of the channel. It made me so happy to see the path for the ferry now clear of all obstructions.

Sunday -- September 24, 2007
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.5     Water Temperature: 70

I counted the names on the sign-in sheet for yesterday, 65 people! That has to be a record for a non-event day, a record for me anyway. We could be heading into a new era. An era where people actually use the Island.

2.5 feet, we know the river can get lower but we hope that it doesn't.

The warblers seem to passing through now. I saw three over the weekend.