December 2008

Tuesday -- December 2, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.2     Water Temperature: 42

Things are getting really primitive here now. The water was turned off and I was forced to take a sponge bath. I managed to drain some warm water out of the hot water heater and I happily cleaned up and even washed my hair. I'm so glad that the temperatures climbed out of the twenties for this week. I've had many offers to stay with friends or family during the construction and I just might have to take them up on it if things get worse, but for now I like being here watching over things.

Monday -- December 8, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.9     Water Temperature: 36.5

The dropping temperatures have me worried about my uninsulated pipes. I have the space heaters running and so far the half-built rooms have stayed above freezing. The "bathroom" is above freezing as well but not by much. Stepping out of the shower can be very invigorating, but at least I have a shower.

These rooms without walls have posed another unexpected problem. I can no longer keep the raccoons away and I caught one outside my door last night. I think it was trying to take up residence near the space heaters. The raccoons have also been after the cans of pepsi that I left out. I thought that an unopeden can of soda would be safe against the raccoons, but apparently not. I found four cans with tooth punctures.

Eagle News! Jack Caldwell, from up the hill, left me a message. He's been watching the eagles and he thinks they have built a new nest. I didn't realize that it was nest-building season for bald eagles but Jack said they lay their eggs in early February. The new nest is in a sycamore tree, a little further downstream from the first nest. That means that it's further away from Sycamore Island but we'll keep you posted.

I've been learning a lot about our water purification system. There aren't many well-system suppliers in this area but I've ordered us a new UV bulb for the purifier and now I'm trying to figure out why the new pressure tank isn't working.

Tuesday -- December 9, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 2.9     Water Temperature: 36.5

Everyone should try to make it down here to see the new construction, and I'm not talking about the club house. I'm talking about the new tree house. This new tree house is very well built and makes the old tree house look second rate. The resourceful, Garth Ross, organized his kids and friends and used the lumber torn out of the locker rooms to build this nice addition to the Island. Thanks Garth.

Friday -- December 12, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 39

The river is rising! It isn't supposed to get to flood stage but it looks like it will reach 6.5 feet. The high water is a little hard to adjust to. It's been seven happy months since the river has been above five feet. The Ferry will be closed tomorrow and I've told the relief caretakers that they do not need to come down.

Sunday -- December 14, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.o     Water Temperature: 39

Ferry is closed again today.

Monday -- December 15, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 39

Things were back to normal this morning. The river went down below five feet and the ferry is now operating again. It was lucky that our little high-water event landed right on the weekend and did not interrupt construction. There's more rain expected this week, lets hope our luck holds up.

I left my "door" open this morning. I went to pick up the work crew on the ferry and when I got back, there was a carolina wren fluttering around in my living room. I instantly went after it. I expecting it to start smashing itself against the windows, trying to escape. I was surprised when this little guy made a quick dash for the door and was gone. It was like he had been in my room before.

Friday -- December 19, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.6     Water Temperature: 39

The river is starting to creep up as I write this and I've decided to close ferry operations for the weekend. I hate to make such a sweeping, authoritarian decision but the river is predicted to reach 6.2 feet by Sunday afternoon. Considering the weather I don't expect that anyone would WANT to come down anyway. So I've raise the pull rope and the rope for the bell, and I've secured the ferry to the Island. It looks like I'll get some late-season canoeing in this weekend.

When I came home yesterday, at around 2:30, I found Carlos and his crew carrying 3/4 inch pieces of plywood and heavy bags of concrete on their backs as they walked down the hill to the Island. I didn't have to ask why they weren't parked on the towpath as Carlos immediately told me what happened. Our poor contractor got a lesson in the difficulties of working on the Island. He was driving up the towpath from lock five, like he has been doing on a regular basis since the construction started, no problem. The problem yesterday was that overnight a beaver had felled a tree down by the dam and this large tree was now across the road, blocking the route to the Island. Since Carlos didn't have a chain saw with him, he was forced to turn around. Turning around on the towpath is not an easy thing to do and his van almost got stuck in the mud. Luckily, the van was weighted in the back with building materials and they were able to turn around in the mud. I loaned Carlos a chain saw to take with him, just in case the tree is still there on Monday.

Monday -- December 29, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 39

The river went up close to six feet but luckily it is back down in time for the workers to resume their labor on the Island.

I thought that the water main break might have affected the river levels but no, it only turned the river a funny orangish-brown color. It did leave some sediment on the steps that was of a different hue than I usually find there, tiny samples of that eroded road bed.

Tuesday -- December 30, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 41

Construction is progressing nicely despite some minor set-backs. What weather we've had! I think we're ready to close in many of the walls, we're just waiting for the inspector to give us the go-ahead.
The well-water purification system is functioning but it seems our system is outdated and we may want to consider an upgrade.

The nice weather has brought out the visitors to the island and the contractors have been very nice about answering the ferry when I'm not here in the morning.

We met one of the past caretakers on Sunday. There was a man in his late forties sitting on the steps as I dropped a member on the mainland. We asked if he had ever been on the Island and he said that he was the caretaker here for a year in 1979! I don't remember his last name but his first name was Brett. He had a great story about being swamped on the ferry during a flood after a big snowfall in that winter. Hopefully we'll hear from him, I encouraged him to write.

Wednesday -- December 31, 2008
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.9     Water Temperature: 41

The wind is howling! It just knocked a canoe off the rack in the first canoe shed.

I went for a paddle last evening. It was a fun little paddle; the sky was alive with color, I saw a bald eagle, and I found a sign that must have washed down from Minnies Island, just up river. I also startled a pair of mallards as I coasted past the head of Ruppert's Island. Seeing mallards is very unextraordinary around here but the female in this pair was different. This poor duck couldn't fly. When it tried to escape the threat of my canoe it could only muster a few feeble hops. It resorted to simply swimming away as it's mate disappeared across the river.

The Club will be 124 years old this year.