Notes from the Island
June 2007

This past month has been one of the driest Mays in recorded history. As someone who lives in a floodplain that's good news, but for everyone else this is surely not good. We don't want to start the long hot summer with empty reservoirs and I don't want to get four months' worth of rain in four days like we did last June. In the meantime, we're enjoying a long stretch of perfect summer weather and the wedding ceremony with 130 guests went off without a hitch. It can get very hitchy down here with the mud and floods and so forth.

I'm happy to report that our young eagle seems healthy and ready to fly from the nest soon. That will make the fourth offspring for this nesting pair in five years. The first year of nest building didn't produce any chicks. The second year there were two successful fledglings. In the winter/spring of 2005 there were no eggs hatched and the last two years have produced one chick each. I love the fact that the eagles and I moved here at the same time. Coincidence?

I had to get the mower out this past month and now the last remnants of the bluebells are gone. Jewelweed is the dominant wildflower on the Island now but they won't bloom for another month yet. I fixed the outdoor shower; it works if you can stand the 54-degree well water. We also got the swim float into the river but we're still working on devising a new anchor system so it might not be in the middle of the river when you come down.

I want to remind everyone on how to get on the Island if I'm not here. Please feel free to take the ferry over if you feel confident in your ability to handle the conditions; but, remember, if you take the ferry you become the defacto caretaker until I return or someone else comes down. That means you have to listen for the bell. If you'd rather not have to answer the bell while enjoying the Island than all you have to do is leave the ferry on the mainland and canoe back over to the Island. If, for some reason, you need me to be here to ferry you to the Island, just call ahead and I'll make sure I'm here. Also, I encourage you to please volunteer as a relief caretaker; it's the best way to become familiar with how things work down here and it's a lot of fun.

This is a very active time on the Island, especially now that the mulberries are in. We have many nesting birds like warblers and orioles. We have waddling geese with their fluffy chicks running behind. We have raccoons and beaver and muskrats. We have owls that hoot at night and crows and hawks hunting in the mornings. We also have snakes. One day I had to come to the rescue of two young pool players who were concerned about the snake on the dresser next to the pool table. I used a pool stick to show the snake out the door.

-- Joe Hage, Sycamore Island Caretaker