Notes from the Island
June 2004


I’m beginning to feel like I’m reaching true River Rat status. Not only did I get invited to the annual fish fry at Fletcher’s Boat House, but I was also interviewed by Angus Phillips of the Washington Post and got my picture in the paper, paddling a canoe with Star Mitchell!

It’s been a fabulous month down here on the Island, a welcome change to the dreary May we had last year. The early warm weather has brought out the swimmers and most evenings there’s some activity on the swim dock. We’ve been enjoying the swimming and grilling and the sunsets. The bugs haven’t been too bad yet, and there are no cicadas down here. The fishing looks much more promising than it did last year as well. Large catfish are being caught regularly from the Captain’s Float; and I heard a story about an eleven-inch bass.

I really had a blast at the annual Down River Race. Not only was it an exciting ride through the gorge on a perfect day but I also loved seeing the Island covered with kayaks, canoes, and paddlers. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, even those of us who didn’t win a prize. Thanks to Star and George Malusky and John Stapko and everybody else that helped to make it a big success.

The bird activity on the Island is beginning to slow down a little. It looks like most of the nests are empty and the parents can now relax a little. Strangely, there aren’t very many young geese around, not like last year at all, and I wonder if there wasn’t a hungry fox or coyote here. I did see some tracks. The wrens seem to be having a good year. I saw seven of them together on one small branch. One brood of offspring I wasn’t too thrilled to see, even though they are very cute, was the ground hogs. I thought I had just one fat ground hog living under my house but I guess I have a family of them now—could be trouble. The barred owls have been adding some enchantment to our evenings. Their low resonating voices can be heard calling to each other across the Island. One night there were at least three owls here, making quite a racket.

I completed the Red Cross first aid and CPR classes, so now you can feel free to have an emergency on the Island. But please don’t! I’ve got the recently rescued swim float ready to launch again. We’ll need some volunteers to help get it out in the river. We’re looking forward to an action-packed June. The kids get out of school on the fifteenth and then it’s “Camp Sycamore” for two weeks; should be lots of fun. See you there!

-- Joe Hage, Sycamore Island Caretaker