Notes from the Island
July 1994

The weather has been hot and muggy during the day. We have a dedicated group of swimmers, including Betty Burchell, Ann Kip, John Krasny, the Elfstroms, and Harry Schwartz, who usually show up in the evening to cool off with a quick dip in the river. Al Brown's ladders are holding up well and I made a quick emergency repair on the gangplank to the swim float which should last us until the fall workfest.

The sultry overcast days often end with violent thundershowers. The sky darkens, the wind whips around, trees sway back and forth, and branches crack and fall. At first you hear the thunder in the distance, then you see raindrops out on the Potomac and suddenly sheets of water pour out of the sky, lightning flashes in the darkness and thunderclaps seem to explode all around you. The storms can be very dramatic, but it is best to view them from inside. Fortunately, we haven't lost any trees yet this summer.

Although thundershowers can flood the smaller streams, the rain does not raise the river level because the storms are scattered and the precipitation is not widespread throughout the watershed. On the other hand, the flooding from Minnehaha and Cabin John creeks will turn the river a reddish muddy color, and cause tons of debris - leaves, twigs, branches, logs, paper cups, plastic bottles, etc. - to float down the Potomac towards the sea. I have also heard that the runoff from the rain can cause the bacteria count to rise in the river, and that it is better not to swim after a storm.

The Spring Workfest weeding has produced a nice harvest of daylilies and lemon lilies. There was even a blue flag or two. The pink roses have come and gone and now I'm looking forward to the spectacular summer flowers that bloom in August.

The mulberries are ripe and everyone from the members to the squirrels to the geese seem to think they are very good this year. The geese and the carp wait in the water underneath the branches waiting for the berries to drop in the river.

The rough-winged swallows are returning to their regular perches on the ferry rope and cable. Members have spotted beavers in the early evening, but I have seen no sign of major destruction recently.

Many thanks to waiting list members Joe and Luisa McBride for painting another coat on the wooden tables for the deck. Thanks also to Mark Ambre for his carpentry work on the picnic tables.

Holly and I will be on vacation backpacking in the Sierras by the time you receive this, but we will return in time for the next Club meeting. See you there.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker