Notes from the Island
The hot weather has arrived. The Island tends to be cooler but
muggier than places up on the hill. The regular afternoon thundershowers
provide some relief from the heat, but they contribute to the humidity.
You might want to check your lockers for mildew.
The showers have not caused any flooding, but they have caused the
river to run a foot or two above its usual level. In general the water is
muddier and the current is swifter than last year. On a hot day, the cool
water is refreshing, but swimmers need to paddle vigorously to avoid being
carried down to the Kennedy Center.
The summer wildflowers are starting to bloom. Down by the ferry
landing the ageratum is flowering and the mallow buds are starting to
form. I noticed a monkeyflower that I didn't see last year. The Joe-Pye
weed and the swamp milkweed are out at the northern end of the Island.
The red cardinal flower is blooming on the trail just up from the swim
float. On Rupperts the mallows and swamp candles are in full bloom and
are quite spectacular.
There is a woodchuck that lives in the folly. When the white mulberry
tree was bearing fruit, we would surprise it out on the back lawn eating
mulberries off the ground. One day I saw it from the window as it nibbled
on a red mulberry tree down near the river.
One of these days I will have to start studying the insect life on
Sycamore. I suspect we probably have undiscovered species here, some of
them undoubtedly living in our quarters. The dampness has contributed to
an increase in the insect population, which is fortunate in the case of
the fireflies and unfortunate in the case of the mosquitoes.
I saw some white caterpillars on the walk a few days ago. A few hours
later I walked by and noticed that hundreds of these caterpillars were
crawling over a totally defoliated bush nearby. I have no idea what the
bush was or what the caterpillars are.
The Nobles had a bad insect experience. They were canoeing around the
northern end of the Island and hit a lowlying branch over the water.
Unfortunately, there was a wasp nest on the branch and all three of them
were stung. They returned quickly and found some baking soda which helped
relieve the sting.
August can be hot and humid, but it's also a good time to go for an
evening canoe ride and see the summer wildflowers blooming on the shores
of the islands. Just be sure to bring insect repellent and avoid those
-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker