Notes from the Island
December 2004

There is nothing too exciting to report this month. Of course, we did have the Workfest which most of you missed. It was a lot of fun and we got a surprising amount of work done. The big job was taking all the docks out of the river. In recent years the floats have been left in the river; but after the damage caused by last yearís ice we decided to take them out just like they used to do in the old days. It is strange not having the docks to sit on and itís a little harder to launch a canoe without the canoe float, but there are no goose droppings to be shoveled off either. The other big project that day was the staining of the decks. Thanks to Dave Winer and his power washer we now have beautifully stained decks. Before the Workfest Dave and I power washed the decks and Dave led a crew at the Workfest applying the redwood stain. The momentum of the Workfest helped me get some other projects done as well. I replaced some screens, hung a new gutter and painted some of the green exterior siding.

The urgent chore now is to get the trees protected from the scavenging beavers. It is during this time of year that we see the beavers on the island. Now that the leafy green plants are gone, the beavers are busy chopping down woody plants to carry back to their lodges for the winter. Already this season they have felled a nice-sized (8 in. diameter) silver maple. In one week all the branches have been removed and the trunk is now being chewed into nice, neat foot-long logs, easy for carrying back to the lodge under the towpath. Itís neat being so close to a wild creature, but I think the beavers are a nuisance and they probably think the same of me.

The willow tree by the ferry landing is the only tree with green leaves and the brilliant yellow leaves of the silver maples have now blanketed the ground. It is strange to be in my living room and be able to see both ends of the island. Iím waiting for the winter birds to start arriving. So far Iíve seen two pairs of hooded mergansers

-- Joe Hage, Sycamore Island Caretaker