Notes from the Island
June 2009


I wish that I could tell you, after seven months of living in a construction site, that everything is shaping up and I have a wonderful new living space. Alas that is not the case. Right now I have a kitchen without a stove or dishwasher. I have no television because they moved my satellite dish. I have an apartment strewn with extension cords. The electrical work and the heating and A/C are only half done. I have doors that don’t close properly and every day there is another mess that is left for me to clean up.

Beyond the agony of the construction it has been an eventful month down here. Club member Drew Walsh brought a crew down here to remove all the construction trash and debris. It is such a relief to see most of that gigantic pile gone from the island. We also had the 54th annual Potomac Down River Race, which was a huge success. It is amazing to think that some of those racers have done this race every year for fifty years! Thanks to long-time club member, Star Mitchell, for pulling it all together. We also had a pretty major high-water event. On May 6th the river was at ten feet and all the steps at the ferry landing were submerged. The last time we had that much water was a year ago on May the 14th. The tragic thing is that, despite our efforts to prevent it, the river took our swim float, just like last year. The other tragedy is that we lost another huge tree, this one an ancient silver maple that fell down at the bottom of the Island, near the new tree house, next to the dragon tree.

I was going to write about how the recent flood took away the "dragon tree". The dragon tree was an old silver maple that had fallen years ago yet had managed to continue to grow, causing it to resemble a giant serpent. This was a favorite place for the kids to climb and I thought it news worthy that the flood had knocked it over. Now it seems clear that all the silver maples are destined for the same fate as the dragon tree; to grow so big that the soft soil cannot support them and they slowly arc toward the river. We were very lucky that this recent fall did not demolish the new tree house.

This recent flood was also the first flood that we’ve had since all the walnut trees were blown down last summer. This is noteworthy because those huge fallen trees act as strainers, catching everything that washes past us. Now the trails at the head of the island are buried under logs and drift wood ten feet deep.

June will be a big month down here with lots of activities and large parties and maybe, June will mark the end of the renovation project.

-- Joe Hage, Sycamore Island Caretaker