Notes from the Island
Because January's weather was wet and mild, my sharpened skates and
waxed-up skis hang unused in the toolshed. The rain, slush and snow melt
caused two minor floods: up to eight and nine feet, respectively. The
Potomac covered the lower steps of the Maryland landing and, on the Island
side, rose halfway up the walkway and just short of the canoe shed. The
Club has been closed for much of the month.
High water forced the beaver from their lodges. For several days a
family of two adults and four young napped on a fallen log at the upper
end of Rupperts. Others cut down trees and played in the swamp formed by
the rising river.
For several evenings in a row I watched an opossum root through the
debris deposited by the current and then scamper away at my approach. At
the height of the flood I saw it dash through the water and climb the
mulberry tree by the canoe float.
Holly and I attached a bird feeder to our window. To encourage
nibbling I dropped some almonds and sunflower seeds on the dirt below.
The chickadees and titmice have not discovered the food yet, but the
opossum eats the almonds off the ground and leaves the sunflower seeds
Water birds abound. Because the river has not yet frozen, the great
blue herons remain, sunning themselves at the lower tips of the islands.
Mallards, wood ducks and Canada geese fly through, stay a few days and
move on. Holly and I even sighted mergansers, which is unusual this early
in the year.
The Island has two new residents. The morning of the first flood two
geese, which appear to be Canada-domestic hybrids with black and white
markings and orange feet, floated down to the Island, presumably from a
farm upriver. Our new fowl are very aggressive and clearly accustomed to
Daniel Englestad discovered a baby snake sunning itself on the wooden
walkway in January. The Chinese claim that such unusual animal behaviour
precedes an earthquake. The Club has not experienced any tremors so far,
but war did break out a few days later in the Middle East.
Sycamore Island is not such an isolated paradise after all.
Helicopter traffic on the river has increased dramatically, Betty
Burchell's son has been called up to the Coast Guard Reserves, and Mrs.
Rogers from the Sycamore Store reports that her son-in-law is stationed on
the USS America in the Gulf.
Members should be aware that the overpass to the Cabin John exit of
the Clara Barton Parkway will be closed for repairs for the next nine
months. Consequently, to drive from the Sycamore Store down to the
Parkway parking lot, one must go up to Carderock or down to Arizona Ave.
before turning around. It's hard to tell in the winter, but I think the
construction has discouraged people from using this section of the
Don't let it discourage you, though. If the weather turns cold and
snowy, come enjoy the winter sports, and if the temperature stays warm,
come enjoy the balmy weather.
-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker