Notes from the Island
September 1994


This has been a wet summer due to the daily thunderstorms that roll through. A hard rain at the end of August caused the river to rise to six feet and the Club was closed for two days, which is unusual this time of year.

The precipitation has not discouraged members from coming down and enjoying the Island. Despite the current and the silty water, people still go swimming, and kids have more mud to play around in. A few anglers have gone fishing, but the Potomac has been cloudy and the pickings have been lean.

The increased rainfall has done wonders for the lawn, such as it is, and the stands of pale yellow jewelweed, purple ironweed and various wild sunflowers are all flourishing and growing up to six or eight feet. The bugs have also multiplied and you might want to bring insect repellent if you are coming in the late afternoon or evening.

We seem to have some new plants on the Island. Down by the ferry landing there is a clump of spotted touch-me-not, or jewelweed, with orange flowers. Although this is the most common variety, we have not had much of it on the Island. Instead, we have tremendous amounts of the pale yellow variety, which is thriving near the canoe shed, workshop and volleyball court.

Some unidentified vine (which appears to be a type of morning glory with a beautiful violet, star-shaped, funnel-like flower) has conquered the lower tip of the Island and is now climbing the trees. Come take a look before we have to tear it all out.

Another unidentified vine, which seems similar to kudzu but with a small star-shaped yellowish flower, has taken over the old chlorinator area and the wildflower garden between the swim float and the volleyball court. The geese think it's delicious, but I suppose it too will have to go.

Many of the late summer flowers are still blooming. Don't miss the cardinal flowers upstream of the swim float; the garden phlox, bouncing bet and goldenrod near the swim float; and the virgin's bower next to the volleyball net.

I have heard reports of a juvenile night heron and a great white egret in the area. The osprey, green heron and great blue herons are still plentiful and the wood ducks and mallards are returning. As the river begins to cool, the turtles and snakes come out of hiding. John Krasny reports that, while sitting under the box elder near the swim float, he spotted a black snake in the branches above his head. From our window we can see what seems to be a very long discarded snake skin hanging from a sycamore.

Many thanks to John Stapko and son for felling two dead trees. And thanks to Al Brown who repaired the ladder on the swim float.

September is usually a great month on the Island. Be sure to come down and enjoy it.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker