December 2011

Thursday -- December 1, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 48

The river is creeping up and we may have to close the ferry late tomorrow and on Saturday.

I heard that the last day of hurricane season was yesterday, so that's good news. But then I heard that today is the first day of meteorological winter. That news wasn't so great.

Thursday -- December 8, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 6.5     Water Temperature: 47

The ferry(Mame)is closed because the river is rising.

It's 11:00 PM right now and the river is at 6.5 on the Little Falls Gage. I had to shut down the ferry at noon and I did all of the necessary preparations, i.e., raised the pull rope and the bell rope and moved all of the canoes to higher ground. The dock is under water so now I come and go from the island in a canoe.

I heard that there are plans to destroy and burn the remnants of the two cabins on Offutt Island. This is significant, not only because it is one of only three Islands in the immediate vicinity that have buildings, but also because legendary Sycamore Island Caretaker, Ken Fassler, used to live on that island and in one of those cabins before he moved here.

Monday -- December 12, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.7     Water Temperature: 47

Man, its cold! I guess it won't be long now before I shut off the water to the clubhouse. The cold has also made me feel the need to stock up on firewood.

The birds I'm seeing are also a clear indication of the change in weather. Suddenly, I'm seeing eagles, grebes and mergansers. Gone are the cormorants, ospreys and wood ducks.

Remember, the ferry is closed when the river is above five feet, looks like we'll have her running again on Wednesday.

Thursday -- December 15, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.0     Water Temperature: 47

The ferry is open.

I was watching an eagle by the nest yesterday. It looked like it was the female, possibly adding sticks to the nest. There were also five buffle head ducks on the water. Two males with their bright white heads and three of the duller females. Today, I just saw a yellow-bellied sap sucker, female. It's a type of woodpecker, more common to the north of us but often seen in these parts during winter.

Tuesday -- December 27, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.5     Water Temperature: 43

More rain today, too bad it's not snow to hide this muddy landscape. I shouldn't complain though. Last year at this time there was two inches of ice on the river and I was dragging the canoe through the snow.

I guess the warm weather has been good for the fishing. I saw my old timer fisherman pull a catfish from the river this morning. He has his favorite spot on the mainland on a big rock upstream from the ferry. I'm a little surprised that there are fish to be caught but maybe I shouldn't be. After all, the great blue herons and the kingfishers are still hanging around and catching fish.

I hope everyone had a good holiday weekend and I wish all you Club members a Happy New Year. I also want to thank the Club for the generous Christmas bonus, not to mention the case of beer and the case of good wine. Thank you so much, it has been a joy to serve you for another year.

Thursday -- December 29, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.0     Water Temperature: 43

Sad news. Captain John Matthews died last Thursday morning. Services today at The Little Flower Church, 9:30.

Saturday -- December 31, 2011
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 43

Happy New Year!

There has been a lot happening down here lately. I don't mean to give you the idea that the Island is crowded, and that all the members are down here during this unusual stretch of warm weather, because that is not the case. Actually the opposite is true. What I mean to say is that a few of us have been busy doing some of the much-needed maintenance.

Trip Reed and Gerry Barton took on the Canal Steward program, and with their help we were able to repair the switchback trail and put in some new water bars. We also had a roofer come down to evaluate the troubling roof issues. It looks like we will be forced to redo both of our flat roofs. It is a big job and large expense but its something that we cannot avoid, a sound roof is vital.

The other important task that has been tackled is the winterizing of the bathroom. I have to credit our new Captain, Drew Walsh, for spearheading this project. Drew found the plumber to run the new pipes and then took it upon himself to do all of the necessary preparation and the insulating of the new pipe. So the new winterized bathroom is done and just in time too. I heard that temperatures will be dipping into the twenties this coming week and I will have to shut off the water to the clubhouse. I guess there is a chance that some ice will form on the river but I doubt that it will be a problem this week.

I found a family of white-footed mice living in my box of painting tools. I opened the big wooden box and they all went scrambling. I counted eight of the little guys altogether. It's that time of year when I have to make sure that all of the storage boxes and bags are sealed up tight or else the pesky mice will move in.