Notes from the Island
July 1989

The big windy thunderstorm missed the Island miraculously. We only lost one small tree where Holly used to attach her hammock. However, there were several trees, including a few oaks, that fell across the towpath, the canal and the path leading up to MacArthur. One of those trees pulled down the wire that leads to the lights on the path. So please remember to bring your flashlights to the next monthly meeting.

I was not on the Island at the time. I had run up to do some shopping at Friendship Heights. When I returned there was a huge tree where my parking space had been.

The following Saturday Peter Fuchs and I restrung the wire to the electric lights up on the path. First we had to saw the tree that had fallen over the line into the canal, which we did while sitting in a canoe. Once that was accomplished, we had to fish the line out of the Potomac. At one point I had to dive to the bottom to unwrap the wire from around a rock where it had snagged.

Meanwhile David Lyles, John Stapko and Holly Syrrakos sawed up the tree out back, throwing some of the branches onto the folly and some into the river, while the heavy pieces went onto the woodpile.

We were very lucky. We were only out of power for twelve hours. Some of our neighbors didn't have electricity for four or five days.

Because of the thunderstorms the Potomac has been very muddy and higher than usual for this time of year. That has interfered with both the fishing and the swimming. Apparently the fish have trouble seeing the lures when the water is too opaque. Also, swimming is bad after a storm because the current is strong and the bacteria count is high.

The beavers appear to be rebuilding their lodge on the island above Ruppert's. Sometimes in the evenings you can get a good view of one swimming by the shore.

Most of the cormorants have gone, but a few remain in what I referred to last month as a dead sycamore on Rupperts. This month the tree seems to be sprouting leaves, particularly among the lower branches.

I also spoke too soon about there being so few Canada geese. They arrived en masse right after I wrote last month's column and the geese proceeded to eat every blade of grass on the Island. However, they left plenty of weeds, which gives the illusion of a lawn.

Flowers continue to bloom. The orange daylilies overwhelmed the Island for a couple of weeks. Now there are coneflowers near the screen porch, rose of sharon by the toolshed, and loosestrife and bouncing bet down beside the swimming float. The water willow is blooming in shallow water and swamp candles have appeared up on Ruppert's.

The weather has been cooler and much more pleasant than last year. I hope it continues that way.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker