January 2016

Monday -- January 4, 2016
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.4     Water Temperature: 44

The sun is shining but it seems like winter has arrived. The wind is bitter cold with whitecaps on the river. Pulling the ferry across the river this morning reminded me of riding on a long ski lift high up in the cold, snowy mountains of Utah. BRRRRR.

I'm glad that Mary and I got a little canoeing in before this cold snap. Yesterday we braved the wind and paddled up past Rupperts Island and into the small channel between Chatauqua Island and the Maryland shore, the river was about 4.5 feet. We passed the lockhouse (lockhouse 7)until the channel came to a dead end where Minnehaha creek comes out from under the canal. (I guess Chataqua Island is only a true island when the river is at about six feet or higher.)

Normally we would turn around here and go back the way we came, but yesterday I suggested doing a little portage. If we carried the canoe over the large gravel bar and past all of the huge pieces of drift wood we could be floating again where the channel resumed upstream. (between Chatauqua Island and Cabin John Island, about fifty yards away.) Mary agreed to the adventure and we had little problem carrying the empty kevlar canoe over land. Along the way we spotted some interesting river trash which turned out to be a little, wheeled canoe caddie in perfect shape!

We continued upstream, hugging the shore of Cabin John Island to our right. We entered Cabin John creek soon after and paddled as far as we could up that stream, with Cedar Island on our left and Cabin John Island on our right.

The sun had dropped below the trees by then, but the return trip was a short one, with a fast-moving river and some powerful wind gusts at our backs. It was a great little outing but we were glad to get back to our favorite Island, Sycamore.

Tuesday -- January 5, 2016
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 40

In the corner of my spare bedroom/storage room there is a closet that houses all of the well stuff, pump, filters, pressure tank, etc. When the renovation was done over five years ago they built a plywood enclosure around all that stuff so that when I needed to get in there I had to remove the plywood. Well, when Ned was here during my vacation he suggested framing out the closet and putting in a closet door to make it easier to access the well stuff.

It had never occurred to me to put in a door, but I thought it was a good idea and yesterday I did just that. The coolest thing about it is that I didn't have to go to the hardware store or spend any money to get the job done. All the materials I needed were right here on the Island. I found an interior door, door knob, hinges, latch, 2x4's for framing, nails, screws and plywood for walls. I even had the paint and primer for the finishing! The job is all done and I think Ned, our financial secretary, would appreciate that I didn't have to spend any money or put any strain on the budget. Thanks for the inspiration Ned, I love my new closet door.

Monday -- January 11, 2016
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.1     Water Temperature: 40

The ferry is closed due to rising river levels.

I guess we can't complain, last year at this time the river was frozen and we were skating on the canal.

Tuesday -- January 12, 2016
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 40

The river is still over five feet , just barely, so the ferry will be closed again today and probably tomorrow as well.

Often, the best time to walk around the Island is just before it gets dark, and last night was a good example. I got to the bottom of the Island just in time to witness the arrival of about fifty Canada geese as they came in to roost for the night.

It was cool to watch, or rather listen, as they took turns landing in groups of six or eight. The geese fly low and make no sound during their approach, so in the dim light the first thing I noticed, or heard, was the sound of their webbed feet skimming across the water as they landed. After they had all landed, they proceeded to swim, single-file, up the channel to my left. It was amazing to be there, surrounded by the swollen river, with a parade of silent geese to my left and a crescent moon hanging low on my right.

This week I've been beefing up some of the insulation under my quarters and securing some rat holes around the foundation. (I had to trap a rat last week. It was a wood rat and I got her in the Have-A-Heart trap and deported her to Virginia.) I think I made a difference with the insulation and the spray-foam that I used. I also feel good about sealing up some gaps in the crawl spaces below my living room. Today I plan to do some caulking from the inside.

Wednesday -- January 13, 2016
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 36

The river has gone down just enough and the ferry is open!

Monday -- January 18, 2016
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.3     Water Temperature: 36

It may not be a polar vortex but it sure is cold out there!

I suppose that this goes without saying but I winterizing the Island and I turned off the water to the clubhouse and to the ladies bathroom. The men's room is still heated and if you need water you can get it from the tap in there.

I had a little trouble trying to winterize the clubhouse this time. It seems that one of the shut-off valves was not working and I couldn't get the water to stop dripping. Of course, I called our plumber, old reliable Charlie King and he came down and installed a new valve. Thanks Charlie!

I forgot to mention some of the new acquisitions down here. Gerry Barton carried down a large microwave oven to use in the club kitchen and Marianne Ross brought down a nice looking four-piece toaster. Paul Hagen was here before the end of the year and brought us a handsome wooden bench for the deck. Thanks guys, we appreciate the effort! (Sorry I didn't mention it earlier.)

It's cold now but this mild winter has made it easier to get some little projects done around the Island. After insulating all of the crawl spaces, I repaired some of the brick walkways, fixed a sticky doorknob, placed chicken wire around some vulnerable trees, cleaned the storage area for the lumber and organized all of our surplus lumber. I cleaned out the lost and found and finished some of the leaf-raking that didn't get done during the workfest. I even used old John Matthews trick of piling up leaves around the foundation of the clubhouse to keep the wind from blowing up under my floorboards. Oh, and I caught another rat, hopefully not the same one.

Tuesday -- January 19, 2016
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 32

It's cold enough for the river to freeze but luckily it's very windy and so far the ice hasn't formed. There are a bunch of ice chunks sailing by but hopefully the wind will keep up until the weather warms up a little bit. Otherwise I'll be stuck chopping ice.

In the summer it's "I get to live on an island". In winter it's "I have to live on an island".

Wednesday -- January 20, 2016
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 32

The river is frozen and the ferry is closed. What a drag.