The "busy" season has officially started and there couldn't be a better time to visit the Island. The weather has been fantastic, and with the bluebells at their peak the Island is awash in soft hues of green and blue. The sun dances through the newly emerging canopy as the air is filled with bird song. Everywhere I look I see birds of all colors, shapes and sizes: Yellow-rumped warblers, red-necked grebes, cormorants and wood ducks by the dozen, and even a great white egret majestically feeding along the shore. The fish are becoming more active now too and it's exciting to see the calm surface of the river broken by the occasional splash of a hungry fish.
April was a big month for club events. We had the Orientation and flower walk on the 17th and the postponed Workfest on the 24th. I was so happy that the weather cooperated during the Workfest especially since it had to be rescheduled. (The funny thing about that is that the river never got as high as predicted and we could have had the Workfest on the 10th after all. Oh well, you can't win them all.) The Workfest went very well and I was very impressed that all the old roof shingles (a new roof was put on the clubhouse on the 12th.) got bagged and almost half of the 120 bags we used made it into the truck and to the dump. There was also a painting crew, a clubhouse cleaning crew, a beaver wire crew, and a group of burly islanders moving heavy docks into the river. Another group gathered river trash (old tires, coolers, refrigerator door and plastic bottles that washed down in the last flood) and brought it over to the towpath to be picked up later. It was great to have so much good help since I felt like I spent my whole day driving the truck up and down the towpath. I'd like to thank the Maluskys for providing us workers with delicious nourishment all day — not only did they bring a big burger barbeque lunch but they also had breakfast covered with coffee, bagels, bacon and more. I think we all had a good time and one brave soul, Hillary Thompson, even went for a swim to be the first try the swim float this year. The water was about 60 degrees (brrrrrr)!
I missed the flower walk and I'm anxious to hear how it went; but I did attend the Orientation and it was a pleasure to meet some new faces. I'm always surprised at how little some people know about the everyday workings of the Island and I'm hoping that the Orientation will inspire people to come down more than once or twice every five or ten years. Tammy and Joe brought a wonderful spread and that, combined with the potluck dishes, made for a lavish lunch with good conversation with interesting new members-to-be.
Besides the work that was done at the Workfest some other notable projects were completed this past month. One of the first things you'll notice if you come down here is that the ferry pier has been extended. All I did was mention to John Matthews the idea of extending the pier and literally the next day he shows up with the materials and plans we need to get it done. (Because of erosion and deposition the north bank of the Island has extended toward the mainland, making it necessary to dredge the channel by hand in order for the ferry to reach the old pier.) We also built a small auxiliary canoe dock for those times when the big dock is out of the river and we put a new deck on the canoe ramp. The Doolittles planted some sycamore saplings so if you see a stick with a green ribbon on it sticking out of the ground try not to step on it.
It will be sad to see the bluebells go (no more excuse for not cutting the lawn) and I'm trying to drink in these perfect days while they last. It's the Aprils and Mays that get me through the Februaries and Marches of Island life. Now is the time to enjoy your Island, while it's in its prime.
-- Joe Hage, Sycamore Island Caretaker