Notes from the Island
Spring has finally arrived and the wildflowers are flourishing
(even if the lawn is not). We are going through what I think of as
the second round of spring flowers. The bluebells are fading, but the
yard is carpeted with purple and even white violets, as well as an
occasional cinquefoil. And the pinkish-white spring beauties are still
At the upper end of the Island you'll see golden ragwort and
wild blue phlox. Down at your feet are some of the purple trillium
and if you look up, you'll notice a blooming wisteria which survived
the flood. Our lone azalea bush, on the other hand, had its roots
exposed and is not doing well, although there are a few blooms.
Scattered around the Island are patches of Solomon's Seal,
garlic-mustard, and star of Bethlehem. And if you look closely, you
may find the wild ginger, which is planted in a lily bed upstream of
the house on the Virginia side. The mayapples are blooming on the
Maryland side. And celandine and sweet cicely are flowering near the
We may not have much of a lawn, but the stinging nettles are
plentiful. Susan and Tove Elfstrom make nettle soup by gathering
tender young nettle leaves and steaming them (don't use the stems).
They then make a roux with butter and flour, add milk (and sometimes
bouillon), spices and the steamed nettles.
The Canada geese have started to nest. Usually they build
nests of feathers and down directly on the ground on the small
islands dotting the river. This year I discovered four different
nests on Ruppert Island including one in a discarded tire. More to my
surprise, I've found one on the Island on top of a pile of debris not
far from the Clubhouse.
The beavers are still active. We occasionally see them out
on the lawn in the evenings. I'm not sure what they are eating,
because there isn't any grass there.
And, yes, I've seen my first snake. It was a small garter
snake, still sluggish from the winter. There was also a toad hopping
around on the bricks.
Members have been very active coming down to the Island to
clean up after the flood and there was a good turnout for the
Annual Spring Workfest. Many thanks to George and Marcia Loeb who
grilled the chicken.
As usual we put out the floats and set out the picnic
tables. Several people carried the shower stall from the mud at the
lower end of the Island back to its proper position. It still needs
some repairs, so is not yet in running order. Gerry Barton, David
Holdridge and Tove Elfstrom rebuilt the missing section of the walkway
and anchored what needed to be anchored.
The rest of the Elfstrom family and friends bravely took on
the task of rooting up nettles at the lower end of the Island. Many
people picked up trash and driftwood off the lawn. Others raked and
put mulch around trees before putting down grass seed. Several
members gave the Clubhouse a good Spring cleaning. Others repaired
the brickwork in and out of the house. And I can't forget to mention
those good folks who carried all the lumber down the hill.
The following people came down to the workfest or one of the
work parties: Blair Bower; Fern and Jay Ingersoll; Mark Brenneman and
sons; Phil and Marianne Ross; Peter, Amanda, Tom, Ollie and Louisa
Cannell; Burton and Elaine Pogell; Bill Eichbaum; Elizabeth Rice; Brad
Coolidge; John and Judy Lentz; Mark Ambre; Terry Murphy; Sally Strain;
Severina Rivera and Jim Drew; Susan, Tove, Miriam and Madelene
Elfstrom; Carol and Ava Petrash; Rachael Andruzzi; Paul Smith; Julie
Smith; Beth Burtolin; Julia Morgan; Meranda Oakley; Al Brown and Mardy
Burgess; George and Marcia Loeb; Warren Brown; John and Peggy
Thomson; John, Susanna, Sam and Polly Membrino; Gerry Barton; Rich
Lodish; John Matthews; Penny and Dick Doolittle; Thomas, Kaitlin, Pat
and Margaret Barry; Ann Marie and John Cunningham; Tilda, Tommy and
Darren Tucker; David Winer; Tryon Wells; Holly Syrrakos; Frank Daspit
and Nell Hennessy. My apologies to anyone I might have missed.
I have already been swimming this year. The water was a
little cool and I didn't stay in long, but it was a hot day and I
needed some refreshing. See you soon.
-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker