Notes from the Island
November 1990


October was an eventful month. First, the Potomac rose two feet overnight and by the next morning the offshore swim float had disappeared. When the water subsided, I discovered that the Island end of the cable was still attached to the chain wrapped around a tree, but the other end was stuck on something in the river. I suppose it's possible that the float sank somehow. Bring your wetsuit to the Workfest and we can investigate.

A few days later we had a windstorm. Part of a sycamore dropped on the back lawn and I cut it up for firewood. A large tree fell over the remaining swim float, snapping off the top of a maple and lodging in the crotch of another tree. The float itself was unharmed and John Stapko has volunteered to saw down the tree during the Workfest.

Then heavy rains fell and the Island flooded. The water level reached nine feet, which brought it half way up the walk but not into the canoe shed. The Club was closed for several days and a large party was cancelled. The river deposited inches of silt and mud on the banks, which is messy to walk through but which leaves excellent impressions of the footprints of raccoons, squirrels and muskrats.

We usually see more beaver during floods. The lodge on the small island above Rupperts was washed out again, and the beaver haven't started repairing it yet. One night during the high water I was tying up canoes by the swim float and I could hear the tails slapping the water in the dark. The next day I could see the rodents had been feasting on the branches of the fallen tree.

One evening Holly and I were admiring the sunset reflecting off the swollen river, when we saw a huge beaver paddle through the current, amble up the bank and start gnawing the bark off a branch. Our presence didn't bother it at all.

Aside from that, October was a warm sunny month. The leaves are changing color late this year: the sycamores are turning brown and the maples are still green. Yesterday I saw turtles on a log near Minnie's Island and a garter snake on the walk by the clubhouse.

The Canada geese, mallards and wood ducks are flying south. Seagulls are already returning to Broadwater for the winter.

Holly and I want to invite all of you to come and view the new addition on the day of the Workfest. We hope to see you then.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker