Notes from the Island
October 1997

On the first Saturday in September the picnic table team came down at 1000 hours to assemble the 4 new tables. John Matthews and Gerry Barton actually did all the skilled work... John Krasny did the wood rasping and minded the ferry... Tryon Wells did the screw tightening and other miscellaneous unskilled work and lifting... and Tryon made the requisite and obligatory unplanned trip back to the hardware store. These are great tables, instigated by Tryon Wells and designed by him and John Matthews to be durable and comfortable. John Matthews had the metal frames specially made in a design that allows Members to slide onto the seats from the side without obstruction. Members will also note that the tables are in new places, and all are encouraged to search the Island to try to find them... although during the past month at least one has been moved to a different new location by Members.

Also on this Saturday Arturo Fuentes completed the cement foundation work on the last three canoe shed modules. Each of the four foundation poles for the modules now have two bags of sackcrete at the bottom to anchor them. Arturo is also responsible for the excellent ground levelling job at the Frank Davis Memorial that allowed placement of one of the new tables there, prepared a great seeding bed, and makes the fireplace area usable for the first time since last year's flood. The grass seed planted there actually came up in less than a week, and although the grass looks green and lush, Members are requested not to use that area until the grass is well established next month.

While standing up Island, enjoying a quiet moment of solitude, the Caretaker was startled by the sound of a dense object falling from the sky. His first instinct was to dive for the ground and yell "Incoming!!" There was no explosion, but when the phenomena occurred again minutes later, it was realized that he was standing under a walnut tree, and looking up at how tall it was... and looking down at how large the walnuts are... and thinking about 32 feet per second per second... quickly left the danger zone. Consequently, certain areas of the Island may be designated as "hard-hat areas" for the duration of the walnut falling season.

Late August and early September has become the month of the spider. You will notice longish poles by many of the doors downstairs. These are to poke through the doors before they are entered the first time of the day... since each night all large openings are covered again with web. Which king of the Scots took his inspiration from a spider who would never give up... Robert Bruce perhaps?? Tryon Wells first warned of this season as the time of spiders, when the large spiders with the large webs became ascendant all over the Island, and a new kind of large spider protecting a large egg cache would appear. Sure enough, within days they appeared everywhere. A most interesting hour was spent watching a bee and the spider whose web he became entangled in. The bee put up a game fight, able to keep the spider at bay because his ovipositor with stinger was not entangled and could be brought to bear any time the spider approached. But the spider was able to get one wing thoroughly tied up. I never saw the coup de grace that put the bee to sleep, and can only wonder if the spider was actually able to inject the venom into the wing and not the body.

-- Doc Taliaferro, Sycamore Island Caretaker