Notes from the Island
September 1997

Several events have occurred since last month to cause the Caretaker to question whether Members read seriously (or at all) the Islander, or whether or not they are aware of the Responsibilities of Membership. So let's review.

First and foremost, if a Member comes on the island at a time when there is no Caretaker present or any other designated responsible person... the Member becomes the de facto caretaker!! This means no swimming or leaving the middle of the Island to canoe unless the Member first takes the ferry to the towpath and locks it up so as to allow other Members or a returning Caretaker access to the Island without having to swim across. Members should know that the ferry bell can not be heard from the swimming float and that it is irresponsible to be swimming on the Island without first making provision for others to have access.

Secondly, Members are responsible for the behavior and conduct of their children and their guests. One of the Responsibilities of Membership is to know the rules, and to make sure your guests and children follow them. For instance, Members are supposed to know that the canoes and kayaks that are in racks are private and not for the unauthorized use of themselves or their guests.

The great glory of the river is that it assumes a different character during different times of the day. Some would say it is at its most charming during those hours in which people are not around. Especially after dark. For instance, the Caretaker had often wondered about the "skimmers," those spider like insects that can be seen scooting across the surface of the water. One can imagine how they must be constantly on the move to avoid lurking fish looking for lunch. But what happens to them after dark? Consider that when the river is actually high enough to have a fast current, they must have to work hard just to keep from being swept down river. And what do they do after dark? They must have to sleep or rest sometime. But on one moon lit evening, while investigating the zillions of circular ripples on river, it could be seen that the surface was covered with skimmers... un-sleeping and un-ceasing in their efforts to scoot up river and keep from becoming fish dinner.

One evening after dark, on a moonless night, the Caretaker and his Wife were canoeing and noticed literally hundreds of "things" swimming on the surface. Big things! Splashy things! Obviously not skimmers! They were everywhere! Because it was dark it was difficult to tell just what kind of critters these were... but there were a lot of loud splashes... some quite close to the canoe. When the flashlight was deployed, the most amazing sight was revealed. Catfish!! Catfish everywhere!!! They were swimming side ways, their bodies partially out of the water... their mouths wide open... scooping the surface of the water... obviously surface feeding. Upon reflection it makes sense, when one considers that the ambient sky glow must make the surface of the river a lighted plane contrasting to the dark below. The entire surface of the river was covered in ripples, between the catfish, the skimmers, and emerging bugs. Of course, this beauty must remain the Caretaker's secret. One can only imagine the chaos and lack of privacy that would ensue should those Members who are fisher persons find out.

Peter Winkler called to say that he had a very positive experience with Remar, the Christian outreach organization recommended to us by John Krasny as good folks to know... and to come pick up our trash after the Spring Workfest. You will recall that that huge pile of metal, old toilets, and other assorted junk left near the dock after the Workfest, and the wonderful job Remar did in removing it. Peter asked for their number at the Monthly Meeting, promised a report, and is now singing their praises. Need odd jobs, moving, or removal... take note.

Mid-month several folks escaped from what the Caretaker and his Wife refer to as "up on top" to come swim one Saturday. What a pleasant surprise when Harry and Marinda Schwartz showed up with two inflated inner tubes to contribute to the Island. Harry related that when he thought about the likely request and appropriation process, he thought "what the Hell" and just went out to buy them. A third and larger inner tube will come down on Harry's next trip down. Kudos to Harry for thoughtfulness and initiative.

Any members coming to the Island should wander through the men's locker room and take note of the work Tryon Wells has put in to get on top of the long neglected locker situation. You will notice there is now a locker assignment list on the home page under Official Club Business, and that it is full of holes and mystery. Tryon has identified all lockers as to presumed current status, and put notices on the door of each one asking that Members confirm or deny by notifying the Caretaker. Please check with the Caretaker when coming aboard to see the master list.

And finally, the Caretaker has been asked about the uncut clump of weeds on the lawn beyond the canoe shed near where the path to the bottom of the Island begins. Originally this was not cut because it was the site of one of the embedded iron anchors for the old canoe shed. Arturo has long since cut and removed the dangerous metal... but it has been left as a reminder of what the lawn would look like in its natural and uncut state.

-- Doc Taliaferro, Sycamore Island Caretaker