Notes from the Island
April 1994

The Potomac has been running high all month, fluctuating between six and ten feet at the Little Falls gauge. Right now the water level is around seven feet and dropping slowly.

The club has been closed all month. A couple of parties and an overnight camping trip had to be cancelled. The Saturday caretakers couldn't come down. When the Island reopens I imagine we will be busy. Dave Holdridge, the carpentry supervisor, wants to do an assessment of the carpentry needs; Bill Eichbaum, the house supervisor, wants to inventory the lockers; and John Matthews and John Wiebenson want to work on an alternative remodeling plan.

It feels as if we're caught between winter and spring. The snow and ice are gone. The seagulls are leaving and the cormorants are returning. Some days the temperature goes into the seventies and some nights it drops into the twenties. The crocuses are blooming and there are some flowers on the forsythia. The shoots of daffodils, daylilies, trout lilies, and bluebells are poking up out of the ground. This afternoon I saw my first spring beauties and myrtle. Within a few weeks we should be seeing many more of the early flowers. Let's hope the river drops and you can come over and enjoy them.

If we're getting tired of the flooding, I can imagine how the beavers must feel. Yesterday I saw three tired, miserable-looking specimens huddled on a small patch of ground that was all that remained of their little island above Rupperts. I've been putting chicken wire on the large trees as soon as I notice the beavers' tooth marks, but the beavers have been taking down a number of small saplings at the upper end of the Island, and we should probably start thinking about some erosion control techniques.

It seems early to me, but I've seen several Canada geese who appear to be starting their nests already. Unfortunately, they nest directly on the ground on small islands and any rise in the water level washes their nests away. On the other hand there seem to be no shortage of Canada geese and every spring there seem to be lots of goslings.

Let's hope that the Potomac drops soon and you can come down and see the bluebells and other wildflowers.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker