Happy New Year to everyone. We Island dwellers hope you all had a wonderful holiday. We've had a very nice month down here. The weather has been amazing and every time I think it's going to be the last nice day before winter, we get another warm, sunny day. The Island has been busy with my regular visitors and we did have a couple of holiday gatherings down here as well. It's been fun decorating the clubhouse and the ferry with wreaths and lights, having aromatic fires in the wood stove and singing carols around the pool table. We decided not to bring a Christmas tree down here this year and instead we decorated our ficus tree and put that in the window. Looks pretty good.
I fixed the baseboard heaters in my bathroom. They haven't been working since the first of the cold weather hit and we've been getting by with just a space heater in there. I wasn't confident that I could fix the problem and I was on the verge of calling in an electrician. I had to do something because I knew that the space heater would not be sufficient to keep the pipes from freezing in this under-insulated room. I shut off the power, took apart the switch, and found the problem: A disconnected wire. With a little trouble I was able to reconnect the wire and restore the heat to the bathroom.
I've seen a few wintering birds like the red-necked grebes and the common mergansers. The red-shouldered hawk is always around and I saw a merlin at the top of a dead sycamore. The eagles have been spotted near their nest and I caught another glimpse of our nocturnal friend, the flying squirrel. Birds that are strangely absent are the seagulls that are usually massed out in the middle of the river at this time of year; but not so this year. Maybe itís the warm weather that has them on a different schedule. Speaking of the warm weather, I'm afraid that the bluebells might start emerging here soon. We already have a number of green shoots coming up and the silver maples are starting to bud as well. Can you say climate change?
Tryon and I noticed as we were driving on the towpath to deliver a huge roll of roofing rubber down to the Island that the Lock Six house is now vacant. I guess that young couple and their baby moved out and I've lost my closest neighbor on the canal.
-- Joe Hage, Sycamore Island Caretaker