Notes from the Island
March has been dry and mild and the wildflowers are out a
little early. As you walk down from the parking lot, you will see
spring beauties, red dead nettle, saxifrage and star chickweed along
the path. On the Island itself, the crocuses have come and gone, but
the daffodils, forsythia, vinca and spiraea are blooming. The lawn is
covered with spring beauties, violets, cinquefoil and bluebells.
There are beautiful clumps of Dutchman's breeches alongside
the walkway and toothwort behind the toolshed. You can also see
where plants are about to flower: golden alexander at the lower tip
of the Island, Star of Bethlehem near the canoe shed, and golden
ragwort and purple trillium next to the volleyball court.
Holly and I saw large yellow trout lilies or dogtooth violets
blooming next to the towpath. We haven't seen any on the Island yet,
although there are many of the mottled green leaves shooting up out
of the ground. Sycamore has a large number of the white trout lilies,
which apparently are rare in this area.
The seagulls have flown away and the cormorants have
returned. Yesterday I noticed a bevy of buffleheads out on
Broadwater, resting on their way north. Wood ducks are perching in
the sycamores, checking out nesting spots. And the air is filled with
Canada geese are staking out their territories. They are
congregating in pairs around the small islands in the river where they
build nests of down on the ground. I saw one goose chase a
trespassing great blue heron off Box Elder Island.
One Sunday afternoon I looked out over Broadwater and saw
what I first thought were an unusual pair of ducks. As I went for a
closer look, I suddenly realized that what I was seeing were the
heads of two deer as they were swimming across to Virginia. They
must be powerful swimmers, because by the time I could run for a
canoe and binoculars, they had already reached the other shore.
Many thanks to John Matthews who just installed a temporary
canoe dock. The permanent dock will go in the water at the Workfest
on April 23rd. And we will also have painting, carpentry and grounds
work to do. Be sure to bring a dish for lunch and we'll see you then.
-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker