Notes from the Island
November 1999


Now is the time to grab your calendar and make sure you ink in November 20 as the day you will be on the Island for the Workfest festivities. You folks on the waiting list especially should take advantage of the opportunity to come down and meet Members and have a good time on the Island. Every Member is expected to make a service contribution... remember this is not a country club... and as the last few years has seen a trend toward larger turnouts, the occasion has become more of a Funfest, as many hands make the onerous jobs go fast. Remember to bring a dish for the pot luck lunch. And even if you do not make it down for the heavy lifting at 0900 hrs, come when you can. Last year people arriving in the afternoon gave a fresh surge.

The big news down here this month is that the well is fouled. Over a week ago I turned on the shower and like to tore the curtain down trying to get out, gagging and coughing. The water smells exactly like the pole we stuck into the septic tank to try to determine how clogged it might be. We are still waiting for it to be arranged to get someone down here to try to inspect and fix the well, but either some critter has burrowed in and died or there will be real evidence at the next meeting about the effects of overuse of the facility. Many thanks to the many Members who have volunteered their house for us to come wash ourselves and our laundry, and especially to the Elfstrom family, who unbidden carried twenty liters of drinking water down the hill for us.

Regarding the issue of more people using the Island... I have seen Tryon's report and the numbers... and looking at those numbers on a piece of paper they look pretty innocent. But that is not the issue! The issue is that what the Island "is" is changing because more Members are using it in the last three years, and the number of guest cards issued has almost trebled. The effect is far more noticeable to Phyl and I who are here every day than to those of you who are intermittent users. Without a change in the rules, 169 people will now have the right to purchase guest cards on January 1. This is not, as some people think, about life getting more difficult for the Caretaker! This is about the changing character of the "Sycamore Experience." And for the sake of the Island some thought needs to be given to what the maximum weekly "carrying capacity" should be. (Perhaps the problem with the well has already defined it.) What is really exasperating is the great number of you who complain to me on the ferry about how the island is changing and how there are too many people on the Island but who will not come to the Meetings to make your opinions heard. It is also interesting that the Loeb proposals might fail despite the fact that at least a dozen of you have mentioned on the ferry your support, another example where broad Member sentiment is not reflected at meetings. At least e-mail the Club President.

The other thing about which Members complain is the profusion of new rules. But in my opinion this is directly caused by the increased traffic on the Island... and hence increased liability exposure. Something that might have been a monthly incident before when we were a sleepy canoe club and no big deal is more likely now to be a weekly incident, and such incidents now something to be controlled by legislation. A good example is the proposed rule that no one can use a Club canoe unless they check it out from the Caretaker who then checks to see if they are on a list. While such control might be a good idea for minors, especially unknown guests of minors, perhaps otherwise we could simply limit the use of club canoes to Members or people accompanied by Members and thus not resort to a list.

-- Doc Taliaferro, Sycamore Island Caretaker