Notes from the Island
December 1995

The Workfest was a great success. Many members came down to pull in the floats, rake leaves, and put up firewood. And afterwards we enjoyed a fine meal. Many thanks to all and especially to the Loebs and Englestads for the wonderful food.

We have had some nice days in November, but much of it seemed cooler than usual with plenty of sleet, slush, ice, etc. In fact, I've already had to put sand on the bridge to keep people from slipping.

The water to most of the Clubhouse has been turned off, the lines have been drained, and the sinks disconnected. There is potable water available from the outside faucet on the back of the house. And, for the first time, we have a working heated flush toilet in the men's bathroom, which will remain open all winter.

The National Park Service and the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club have completed their repair work on the path, complete with check dams and water bars. Their efforts will greatly reduce the erosion and make the trail easier to maintain.

There are fewer birds around. I went canoeing this morning and didn't see a single heron. However, I did spot kingfishers, osprey, and woodpeckers. (And as soon as I wrote this I looked out my window and saw a merganser in the slough).

If you have been curious about Rupperts Island, but have been intimidated by the nettles, poison ivy and general underbrush, be advised that winter is the perfect time of year to visit that island. You don't even have to worry about snakes. There is, however, a large beaver lodge on the Virginia side. And as a special bonus for those who come early there are several wild persimmon trees with ripe edible fruit at the upper end of the island.

The beavers have been active on Sycamore. Imagine my surprise when I woke up on Thanksgiving to find a tulip poplar twenty feet from the clubhouse, which had been almost totally chewed through. With the help of some friends, I dropped the tree away from the house and the beavers have continued to work on it ever since. I believe they have a lodge on the Island upstream of the ferry landing.

Our white goose seems to be doing much better. It hangs out with half a dozen Canada geese and I feed them corn every morning.

Winter is a slow time on the Island, but it can be very quiet and beautiful here. So don't all come down at once, but do visit. And feel free to call if you want to know if the ice is thick enough for skating.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker