Notes from the Island
September 1993

August has been hot and muggy. Due to the lack of rain the river level is quite low. Many members have been enjoying the water, some swimming to Virginia or up to Rupperts and others floating around in inner tubes. The fishing has been active, with anglers catching many small bass and sunfish. The abundance of small fish probably explains the large number of osprey, cormorants and herons that congregate in the area.

Summer flowers are still blooming. There is a beautiful clump of jimsonweed, horse nettle and morning glory at the lower tip of the island. From the swimming float upstream you can walk through a wonderful wildflower garden of ageratum, sunflower, ironweed, mallows, Joe-Pye weed, coreopsis and cardinal flowers. Soon the jewelweed will be ripe; kids love touching the pods which appear to explode on impact.

The work session this month is on Sunday September 19th and will start at 10 AM, but feel free to come down any time. We'll have plenty to do. The grounds look nice, but Ann Kip was pointing out thorny weeds in the lawn which need to be eradicated. Also, we need some brave souls who aren't afraid of tackling stinging nettles, poison ivy and kudzu. Trip Reid did a good job of cleaning the men's locker room in July, but the upstairs Club House could use a thorough scrubbing. Meanwhile trash is accumulating on the Island and it's time for a trip to the dump.

One of the unique features of the Sycamore Island Club is its participatory democracy. Members come together, elect officers, attend monthly meetings, volunteer as Saturday caretakers, do the work that needs to be done, and run the entire operation. Although we often comment on the natural beauty of Sycamore Island, we don't always recognize that our enjoyment of that beauty depends to a great extent on the hard work and effort of many people. This organization would be very different if the dues were much higher and all the physical and administrative work were done by a paid staff.

I believe, and I'm sure many members agree, that a large part of the appeal of Sycamore Island is that its rustic look and its dependence on volunteer labor is somehow very much in harmony with the natural beauty of the environment.

However, this means that the smooth operation of the Club depends on the willingness of individuals to serve as officers and supervisors, and on the active participation of the membership at monthly meetings, monthly work sessions, and semi-annual work fests. Your involvement will help. Come down on the 19th, bring a picnic lunch, work for a few hours, go out for a canoe ride and take one last swim before the water gets too cold.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker