Notes from the Island
January 1994


Last night a strong north wind blew down the river and this morning there was ice on the puddles in the swamp. Two great blue heron were huddled at the lower tip of Rupperts, basking in the sun. A lone osprey soared overhead. I can tell winter is here: John Matthews has taken his canoe away, the geese start honking for their corn as soon as I open my door in the morning, and the seagulls spend their days floating down the river and then flying back upstream.

The beavers are still around, but they haven't caused as much damage as in previous years. Holly and I were disturbed to notice that they had been munching on a sycamore tree by the canal. Usually the beavers prefer maples or box elders and I don't even bother putting chicken wire around the sycamores. But if their tastes are changing, I will have many more trees to wrap.

We weathered the last flood without incident. Actually it was two floods. The river rose into the canoe shed, dropped down and then rose back up again. Dick Dianich happened to be jogging by and showed me a new technique for raising the ferry rope well above the rushing waters.

This is a quiet time of the year. The leaves and flowers are gone. A few birds, like the woodpeckers, cardinals, titmice and chickadees stay around. The pawpaws and persimmons have fallen from the trees, but occasionally I'll still see the seeds in animal scat.

I hope you have your skates and cross-country skis ready in case we have lots of snow and ice. However, if this winter is as mild as the last two, you can always come down, fire up the wood stove and spend a quiet afternoon just reading a book and looking out over the Potomac.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker