Notes from the Island
Recent fishing reports are
always posted on the daily greeting, and observations by resident
fishing expert George Malusky can be found. Anyone with a locker or
canoe rack who has access to the web should check it to verify the
information is correct, and if not, notify the Caretaker. On the Island
it is invaluable to keep up with the river stats and forecasts, and
without cable TV the web offers the closest thing to a real time radar
picture for approaching thunderstorms. Actually, Montgomery Cable
called again last week with an offer to install cable service. For the
1200 feet of cable they would have only charged $5,400.00.
Having been invited to go fishing at Snake Island, it is now
understandable why the water level can not go much lower. Geese were
standing on top of the "dam," and the water flowing over it came barely
up to their ankles. How high is a goose's ankle?? I estimate a quarter
inch. The water level has officially been down to 2.74 feet at the
Little Falls gauge. It is so dry that there is very little mosquito
problem in the evenings. The grass is suffering, having been chosen for
the continuously damp soils of last winter.
Last week as I bounded out the door I glanced into the screen porch and
saw that Madelyn, our smallish black cat, had sort of cornered a small
racoon kit only a little larger than she. The extremely cute racoon
seemed calmly concerned but not actually frightened, although Madelyn
had to be called back from her stalk and pounce mode. I grabbed Madelyn
and sat down to watch from near the open door while the racoon
methodically investigated the screen porch, neither panicked nor in too
big of a hurry. When I did move from the door the racoon ambled out,
and Madelyn and I followed him around the island from a distance for the
next 30 minutes while he checked things out. Sure seemed to be looking
for places instead of food. It brought to mind the huge animal nest
that Tryon and I discovered in the bottom of one of the lockers during
our inspection, but surely this nest pre-dated Fred.
And then. there I was... sitting at the computer a few nights later...
certain I was alone... when I heard someone outside.! I actually walked
out the door and up the stairs to the Club Room. The outside lights
were on because George Malusky and his fishing colleagues had just left.
But no one was about and I returned to the computer. Then I heard it
again... too loud to be an innocent night noise. This time I turned
right and went into the porch... turning on the light so that I could
see. Nothing! As I walked out of the screen porch I saw Barney, our
white cat, looking in. Following his gaze under the table, I saw the
top to the garbage can... on the floor. I thought then that Madelyn,
our black cat, must be in the garbage. I took three steps to the
garbage can and looked down. There, half submerged in the can was...
wait... not Madelyn... but the small racoon kit seen on the porch two
days ago!!! The racoon looked up and saw me looming overhead... and
calmly stuck his head back in to the garbage. Unafraid... and in such
an innocent way. I was ignored.!!!
I pulled up a chair and sat next to the garbage can. Occasionally the
kit would raise his head and gaze at me while chewing. Barney came in
and they glanced at each other. I realized then that they already knew
each other... already we were all family but I was just finding out. I
must have sat there for 15 minutes... speaking frequently to accustom
him to my voice. I would almost describe him as tame, but that would
give humankind too much credit. Merely preoccupied is more like it.
So I went back inside and made him a hot dog. By this I mean I went in
and nuked a hot dog in the microwave so it would not be cold out of the
refrigerator. I know it was bad and sending the wrong message but I was
curious to see if he would eat out of my hand. I stood over him and
extended the dog... Hebrew National... real stuff. He sniffed it
briefly... then stuck his head back into the garbage. We must have
classy garbage. I sat down again, this time close enough to reach out
and pet him. But I dared not, knowing that my ego would not survive
making such an intimate gesture and being again ignored.
For the last several days I have seen many of the large, tubular
blossoms of the trumpet vine floating down river. They are lovely, and
their being native to the area, I am sad that we have none on the Island
and have resolved to remedy this lack. In fact, having an affinity for
vines as a gardener, I noticed while mowing a large wisteria vine
growing across the grass beyond the volley ball area. I will definitely
transplant it to a safe place. Unfortunately, it is too late this year
to move the many sweet autumn clematis plants growing wild between the
volley ball area and the swimming area. There are many of the large,
fragrant plants hidden in the brush and fighting for there lives that
would be splendid specimen plants if transplanted to the proper
Ann Kip has hung a curtain in the doorway between the women's locker
room and the women's bathroom. This is a result of the casual way in
which children or uninformed male guests use that bathroom, and now
women can change in their locker room with some greater feeling of
privacy, without worrying about strange men of any age walking by the
door and being able to glance in.
-- Doc Taliaferro, Sycamore Island Caretaker