Notes from the Island
November 1996


The weather has been mild. A warm humid breeze has been blowing upriver for several days now. However, the sky has darkened, the wind has picked up, and I hear that a cold front is coming through.

The leaves have been changing and falling onto the lawn and into the river. The poplars turn yellow, the sycamores brown and the box elder and maples stay green until the end of the season.

Some Canada geese and wood ducks have returned. I'm not sure if they are on their way south or whether they will stay the winter. I continue to see the brown domestic duck, which has picked up a mallard friend.

Now that the branches are barer, it's easier to spot the woodpeckers. A pileated was hammering away at a sycamore outside our window yesterday.

Various trees are giving nuts and fruit. The black walnuts litter the ground around the old canoe shed. The pawpaws and the persimmons were damaged by the flood. The only persimmons I see are high up in the branches. But they look ripe from a distance.

The river washed away a great deal of the undergrowth. Today I noticed that some of the plants that are not flood plain species, such as the azalea and the hemlock, look a little tired after the stress of inundation. The only flowers I see left are the asters.

There also seem to be fewer beavers now. Usually I'm running around with chicken wire protecting trees this time of year. But I haven't seen any toothmarks on the bark yet.

And as the anglers all know, the fishing has been bad all year. Maybe the fish population will recover over the winter.

The fall workfest will be on Sunday, November 17. In addition to our usual chores of raking, pulling in the floats, cutting firewood, and bringing up the picnic tables, we will need to tidy up and rebrick the porch, clean up the tool shed and replace the latticework, remove debris, and dig out the old chlorinator. Bring gloves and rakes.

Holly and I are moving to Takoma Park this month. We will miss the Island and all the wonderful members. See you at the Workfest.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker