Notes from the Island
Autumn has arrived. A cold wind is blowing down the river
dislodging dry brown sycamore leaves and scattering them over the
lawn. Morning sunlight burns off the mist which forms when the cool
air sweeps over the warmer water.
Although the red cardinal flowers and the deep purple iron
weed have died back, many late summer flowers are still blooming. You
can find jimsonweed at the lower tip of the Island, smartweed by the
ferry landing, purple asters near the workshop, and garden phlox and
wild sunflowers close to the swimfloat. White snakeroot, goldenrod,
ageratum and asiatic dayflower are scattered around the Island. Near
the canoe shed a nice stand of pale jewelweed still blooms. At this
time of year its ripe pods explode when handled, which explains its
other name: touch-me-not.
To my surprise I discovered a patch of Virginia dayflowers
upstream of the swimfloat. They are very similar to the Asiatic
dayflowers, but they have three blue petals instead of two blue and
Most of the birds are still here. Hundreds of rough-winged
swallows sit on the ferry rope and cable and then flit around the
slough hunting insects on the wing. An osprey soars against the
bright blue sky while a great blue heron stands in the sunshine out
of the wind at the lower tip of Rupperts, wading in the shallow water
fishing for minnows. Through the foliage you can hear the loud dry
rattle of the kingfisher and the deep bass hammering of the pileated
The beavers are starting to store up for winter. They have
already chewed the bark off the base of a large elm upstream of the
swimfloat. I haven't seen any pawpaws this year. I don't know if the
squirrels have snatched them or if the trees just didn't produce any.
On the other hand, the wild persimmon tree in the northern swamp is
bursting with orange fruit. Don't eat them before the first frost or
your mouth will pucker.
The air may be cooler but the river is still warm. Ann Kip
swam yesterday and said she was shivering in the wind once she got
out. George Malusky was down fishing and caught a few small bass.
Clearly the season is coming to an end.
On the third Saturday session David Winer worked hard on
repairing some of the Club canoes with metal epoxy. Let's hope it
holds. The Supers, Renee Dunham and others cleared the trails at the
upper end of the Island.
We have several projects for the October third Saturday
work session and the November Workfest. Club Captain John Matthews
is talking about pulling the ferry out of the water and repairing it.
Carpentry supervisor Tove Elfstrom is getting lumber to replace
rotten boards on picnic tables and deteriorating plywood on the
floats. House Committee Chairperson Leah Hertz has plans for
straightening out the locker rooms and numbering the lockers. And of
course we have our usual tasks of raking leaves, chopping wood and
fighting kudzu. Maybe we can end the Workfest with a giant bonfire by
the river. Be sure to come.
-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker