Notes from the Island
May 1989

The absence of Peter and Holly on a two-week vacation leaves an ISLANDER void to be filled. Herewith passing comments on "Sycamore, April 29, 1989."

The Acting Caretaker (Morning 10:00 to 2:00), Charlie Trammell, Jr., arrived at 10:00 to find the island already occupied. President David Lyles, with Grounds Supervisor Betty Burchell's hesitant approval, was there to mow our lawn and test out the mower. The grass is getting high and the blue bells are past their prime -- but so is the lawn mower. After two arduous hours, David called a halt, called Captain John Matthews for consultation on the mower, and went ashore.

The rest of the morning, filled with on-and-off thunder showers, was spent by Charles in quiet reading by the fire and in visits with our new residential Canada goose family -- mother and father and seven, or eight, or nine goslings. The young are being well tended by their parents.

As Acting Caretaker (Afternoon 2:00 to 6:00), 1 took Charlie ashore and settled down to my reading in the Circle of Warmth. The cowbell rang, and your ferry-puller went to work. Two young men -- on the waiting list -- arrived for fishing. Of course the rain poured down as we left the Maryland shore. The ferry fairly flew through the water, and we raced for cover -- I to the clubhouse stove, they to the canoe shed. When the rain let up the fishermen headed for the lower end of the Island and I pored over the bits and pieces of correspondence and such to be found in the file cabinet -- much of it trash but here and there a treasure.

At 3:30 or so the cowbell alerted me to the arrival of Peggy, Hilary and Tom, and grandchildren Angus and Maddie, here from New Hampshire. Clubhouse time first -- pool and ping-pong. Then in the mild drizzle the ferry called again. This time it was David L. and son Chris followed shortly by John M., and the mower consultation was under way. The younger Thomsons took off on an upriver exploration in a club canoe wielding club paddles and wearing club life jackets.

By 4:30 John, David and Chris had reached a working agreement: the mower functions but it needs serious attention -- and the grass is much too high for reasonable cutting. The consultants went ashore taking the mower with them.

Katie Robinson and a friend, confident of clearing weather, came for a club-canoe paddle and took off upstream. (All afternoon, despite occasional heavy showers, the weather had been improving.)

While awaiting the canoeists' return, I toured the shoreline of the upper end of Sycamore: true wilderness which our goose family was enjoying and in which we seem to have a massive fallen sycamore. I'd not heard about it. At the lower end I found the fishermen, pleased with their afternoon's catch, had returned all the fish to the river. They were ready to go ashore just as the New Hampshire canoeists returned to the canoe landing. So we closed down the Island, pulled across to the Maryland steps, and left the ferry there for the Robinson crew to use and then to lock up. (By phone I've learned since of the further adventures of Katie who dropped the lock into the river and, in a responsible fashion, dashed off for another one -- with the same combination.)

-- John S. Thomson, Sycamore Island Weekend Relief Caretaker