Notes from the Island
May 1995


The Workfest was a great success. Many people came down early and, with the help of George Malusky, Mark Flor, Roger Herst, Judy Bader and others, we put the canoe and swim floats into the river by mid-morning, where Chris and Alicia Belden cleaned them off.

A great deal of work was done in the Clubhouse. Nancy Metzger stained some of the bare wood on the deck, Jack Colwell painted a second coat in the women's bathroom while Blair Bower and Bill Eichbaum painted a first coat on the plywood downstairs. Ann Kip, Eric Simpson, Rene Maycock, Ruth Stapko, Peggy Thomson and others conducted a Spring cleaning upstairs.

After our most recent safety discussion Bill Eichbaum built a prototype rack for the life preservers and Warren Brown purchased a few new pfds and washed and dried the old ones.

Outside, Mark, Adam and David Brenneman and Mark Ambre dug a trench for the water line to the new all-weather toilet stall. Gerry Barton and Mark Ambre rebuilt a picnic table and helped carry the remaining tables from under the deck out onto the lawn. John Stapko cut up firewood for next winter. And then he and John Matthews raised the ferry landing so we won't have to use a plank in high water.

There was also some grounds work. David Winer and Lee Gravatte transplanted some sycamore saplings for erosion control. And then they joined Trip Reid, Madeleine Oakley and Joe and Tammy Belden in taming the wild rose and tackling the dreaded nettles. Hilary and Maddie Thomson brought their own rakes and cleared a section of the lawn we had missed last fall, while Greg and Jamie Super worked on the trail at the upper end of the Island.

On a beautiful sunny Saturday morning Joan Heidemann led a dozen or so members on the annual wildflower walk. Coming down the path we saw rock cress, saxifrage, star chickweed and corydalis. And along the towpath and down by the river we saw Virginia bluebells, spring beauties, lesser celandine, Dutchman's breeches, squirrel corn, golden ragwort, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few.

Most of those flowers are gone now, but the wild blue phlox and the golden ragwort are still plentiful and the may apples are starting to bloom.

This is Spring and the birds are going crazy. I saw my first hummingbird on Sunday and my first goslings on Monday. The warblers are passing through and the air is filled with song. Birds are nesting in bizarre places. You might want to check your canoes before you turn them over.

We have had very little rain and there has been no flooding so far this year, which is very unusual. The river level is low and the water is clear. Eric Simpson reports that he caught some large bass last Saturday morning and Holly and I have both seen what looked like large bass in the canal.

To the best of my knowledge Ann Kip is the first swimmer of the year. It looks like the season has begun.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker