Notes from the Island
January 1996

It is wintertime and the Clubhouse is quiet. Temperatures are cool and the wind blows steadily down the Potomac. Yesterday we skated above Lock 7 and had a great time, but that was the only place where the ice is thick enough. Most of the canal is either thin ice or open water. Slush has been floating down the river and today it's backing up in the slough. If it freezes tonight we may not be able to use the ferry tomorrow.

We had a bout of sleet and freezing rain before Christmas, which made the trail, the bridge and the towpath fairly treacherous. Last year a friend gave us some strap-on cleats for just such an occasion and they came in very handy.

Our white goose keeps company with a small entourage of 6 Canada geese. Every morning they wait patiently for the cracked corn we feed them. If you come to the Island and would like to feed them, the corn is in a large barrel on the screen porch. Of course you can always bring bread or other goodies.

Winter is a great time for watching the woodpeckers. We have a small suet feeder outside our window and mostly we see the small downy woodpeckers, but recently a red-bellied woodpecker has been visiting. And occasionally we get a pileated or a red-headed woodpecker.

The beavers have slowed down a bit but they continue to wreak havoc. This morning I noticed they had chopped down and carried away a spice bush which used to be close to the house. Fortunately, those grow back quickly. Maybe we should view beavers as nature's pruners and landscape artists.

We hope you enjoyed your holidays and we look forward to seeing you in the coming year.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker