Notes from the Island
February 1999


The days are noticeably getting longer and the ice storm and resultant power outages are by now just a memory of adventure. On the Island we were lucky, keeping our electricity while houses up the hill were dark and cold. However, we were iced in for almost three weeks.

This does not mean we can not get off the Island. We may have described before the routine in which we put an aluminum canoe on the ice beneath the pull rope, stand in it, and use the rope to pull us over. The theory is that when the ice breaks beneath, one is still standing on something solid, although the trick is to not lose your balance while hanging on to the rope.

Before the ice storm, while iced in, we did lose power one day when the temperature was in the 20's. The indoor temperature plummeted rapidly. Things got a little tense as darkness approached, as the decision had to be made about whether or not to try to cross the ice before dark.

Fortunately, power was restored before dark. As a result of this, the Captain has brought down an old wood burning stove for the Caretaker's quarters. A detachable and storable stove pipe and chimney will be designed so that the whole unit can be brought out and installed during times of emergency.

As of the end of the month there are only two mating pairs of geese on the Island, one taking up again in the fallen sycamore where there was the visible nest we all remember from next year. Why the grass is getting such a break this year is a

mystery, although perhaps the colder winter has driven more geese further south. Also similar to last year, the river is filled with seagulls, not in groups but scattered singly across the water. I cannot observe any of them fishing ... they just seem to float down to the dam and then fly upstream to Rupperts Island and float back down again... again and again. The beaver are still very active, but have turned .their attention to the many fallen limbs on the Island resulting from the ice storm. They can be observed dragging succulent limb tips down to the water and swimming off to some hidden cache. A newcomer to report is the mole. Last month there were very few signs, but now the entire lawn has been tunnelled. We can only hope for warm weather to bring the black snake back to the Island to take care of him.

Construction seems to be almost done on the new house across and down the river. You will all be surprised when you return this year to note a new structure commanding the river. Where once it was possible to pretend there were no houses in constant sight of the Island... No Longer!! Even worse, the existing houses have taken down more trees to improve their "private viewshed," so this summer there may be for the first time several houses sticking out of the trees and able to keep goings-on at the Island under constant observation.

We are sad to report that Madelyn has not been found.

-- Doc Taliaferro, Sycamore Island Caretaker