Notes from the Island
August 2007

I'm celebrating my fifth-year anniversary of living on the Island, and, just like five years ago, it looks like we're headed into another drought. The five years of living here has taught me to appreciate droughts and enjoy them while they last; things can change very fast. But, in the meantime, it's fun to sit in the screened porch and feel as though I'm looking down on the river, as if it were some glacier-carved lake in the Adirondacks. That's the creepy thing about being down here during high water; it feels like the river is at eye level. Thankfully, there is no flooding predicted in the near future and the swimming and fishing continue to be superb, which might explain why this is by far the busiest year I've experienced since moving here. Every weekend we're filling up four sign-in sheets! But once the crowds are gone, my favorite activity is to stroll down to the swim dock after dinner with my favorite beverage and watch the sun go down. It's been so beautiful it's hard not to walk down there and sit. I especially like it when the wind causes the light to dance on the water.

Maybe it's the lack of rain, but I haven't seen any snakes that I can talk about this month. The highlight this month is the great egrets that seem to be hanging around. One day I watched as five of them coasted past me, their large white forms contrasting perfectly with a cloudy, grey background as they flew up to Rupperts. I think the egrets may have been drawn here by other recent arrivals. Pink flamingos have been living here since early July. In other bird news, it seems that our nesting spring warblers are gone and have been replaced by nesting kingbirds and pewees. I find it fascinating that in order to reduce competition different birds hatch at different times of the year. The ospreys are another example, choosing to rear their young now, long after the eagles have left their nests. So for now it is not the Carolina wren that I hear in the trees all day, but the calls of the young pewee -- "pewee, pewee". The summer night, of course, is dominated by the comforting sound of tens of thousands of insects.

On the maintenance front, I have managed to get a few projects done even though the Island has been very busy and I haven't had John Matthews down here to bug me to get some work done (just kidding, John; you know we love you). Actually, I could have used John the other day. I had to replace one of the pulleys for the safety-chain on the ferry and it's nice to have someone there when you're climbing ladders leaned against small trees. I also hung a new bell by the ferry landing and I put new rubber bumpers on the ferry. I'm also proud of the new carpet-covered ferry protectors that I designed and installed on the ferry-landing steps. A friend of mine, Anaya, painted the horseshoes red and yellow. She also painted one of our tables red; it looks great. I didn't have to cut the "grass" all month but we worked on some picnic tables and fixed the railings on the ferry.

I want to say that even though it has been very active down here, everyone is doing a good job of putting things away and cleaning up when they leave (with a few exceptions, of course). Thanks everyone.

-- Joe Hage, Sycamore Island Caretaker