Notes from the Island
October 1991

Because the summer was dry and sunny, the river level has been low for several months. The current slowed, the sediment settled out, and the water became very clear. Vegetation grew down to the low water mark.

The lower end of the Island now stretches twenty-five feet past the last sycamore tree and the ground is covered with snakeroot, ironweed, boneset, ageratum, mallows, morning glory and tiny maple trees. The next flood may drown the plants or bury them in silt, but the lower end of the Island is noticably larger than it was a year ago.

The fishing has been good. The clarity of the water and the relatively cool end of summer must have contributed to the increase in bass caught. Anglers had the most success with various lures and flies.

The swimming has been delightful. Ken Fassler and Betty Burchell brought another swim float down and anchored it away from shore. The raft has an aluminum top which heats up in the sun but cools down rapidly when splashed with water. Holly bought new inner tubes and I patched some old ones and made a small platform with a giant spindle to store them.

One of the new geese is missing and I suspect it met a tragic end. The other new goose, which had been very agressive, appears to be much chastened and hangs out quietly with the white goose, the gray goose and the Canada goose with a broken wing. Of course, all of them are ready to take food off your picnic table when you look the other way.

The late summer flowers have been beautiful. Ironweed, ageratum, mallows, spotted jewelweed, lobelia, and cardinal flowers dotted the upper end of the Island. Bouncing bet, garden phlox, virgin's bower, asiatic daylily, goldenrod, and pokeweed grew in the patch between the volleyball net and the swim float. A large stand of pale jewelweed lined the lawn near the canoe shed. The Island has several varieties of wild sunflowers, and the smartweed and the white snakeroot can be found everywhere.

We have the usual water birds: herons, cormorants, kingfishers and osprey. Swallows line up on the ferry rope and cable and then flit around catching insects on the wing. One evening I was executing a lazy backstroke and looking up at the blue sky when an egret flew overhead and landed on Ruppert's. Several people said they saw a bird that might have been an eagle.

The beaver are active again and you can examine their handiwork at the lower end of the Island. Members out canoeing in the evening have spotted the rodents and heard their tails slapping the water. The night of the Club meeting I was standing on the stairs of the Maryland landing when a beaver climbed out of the river, waddled within six feet of me, slid into the canal, and then swam up to Walhonding Creek.

Art Gutnick has done a wonderful job of installing the ceiling fans on the screen porch and in the upstairs room. Now the rotating blades will cool off the ping pong players sweating over the new table that Tryon Wells purchased and assembled.

The kudzu vines have taken over part of the upper Island. Maybe a small army of us can attack it at the next Saturday work session. See you then.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker