Notes from the Island
July 1991

The drought has affected the Island. I have not mowed the lawn in a month and some plants, particularly daylilies, have turned brown and dried up. The good news is the river is low and the water is clear. Swimming has been delightful and refreshing, and our anglers are catching bass again.

A few flowers continue to emerge. Fringed loosestrife, ageratum, and trumpet vine are blooming near the swimfloat, asiatic daylily near the ferry landing, swamp milkweed at the upper end, horse nettle and water willow at the lower tip. Morning glory has overrun one of the islands in the northern swamp.

Birds, animals and human beings continue to enjoy the mulberries. Every year we see a woodchuck that ventures out of the Folly onto the back lawn searching for the white mulberries which fall from the tree. This year I picked a quart of thimbleberries and baked a pie from the red- raspberry-like fruit.

The goslings are growing up. Their wings are forming and their feathers are turning from yellow to gray to black and white. They love to eat the mulberries up by the house, down by the canoe float or back by the volleyball net. Other Canada geese have stopped to nibble grass on their long flight back north.

For some reason I've noticed more toads and fewer snakes recently. From time to time we see muskrats swimming through the water at the upper end of the Island. Holly and I saw killdeer at the lower end of Rupperts. Otherwise the wildlife has been quiet. Trip Reid noticed that some swallows had built a nest in a hollow log overhanging the river in the northern swamp. Often you can see them in the slough perched on the rope or the cable before they flutter about catching insects on the wing.

Holly and I solved the mystery of the swimfloat which disappeared in high water last year. While Holly paddled a canoe and I swam alongside, we followed the cable, which was still attached to a tree, to a point 100 feet offshore, where I dove repeatedly to find the cable caught on a rock. Eventually I traced the cable to its frayed end, where it must have snapped, releasing our swimfloat on its one-way journey to the Kennedy Center.

I would like to give a special thanks to Tryon Wells and the members of his party who carried the Circle of Warmth back to its final resting place behind the workshop and set it up as a barbecue grill.

For those who are not on vacation or at the beach, this is a good time of year to come down for an evening picnic, swim, and croquet or volley ball game. And if you drop a fishing line in the river you might even catch something for the grill.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker