Notes from the Island
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
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
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