Notes from the Island
January 2004

First of all I want to send a great big THANK YOU out to everyone in the club for the generous gifts that the girls and I received for Christmas! I've said this before but it's really great to be here and be appreciated.

Happy New Year everyone! It has certainly been a memorable year for us here on the island. I'm sure we'll never forget our first year on Sycamore Island. Did you hear we had record-breaking rainfall? It's been wet, but it has been a great year! The kids have adjusted to their new schools and seem to be taking the island lifestyle in stride. We're feeling like we're part of this community here by the river, too. I think they like it here, but of course, they don't appreciate it like I do. They don't understand the joy of not being disturbed by the sound of the neighbor's lawnmower, leaf blower, etc. They don't appreciate walking out the front door and not being surrounded by houses full of people. But I think they do share my joy when we're crossing the river on a December morning and the sky is ablaze with the red, pink and orange of the sunís first rays -- awesome. And we all agree that close encounters with wild animals help keep things interesting.

The news on island maintenance is that we now have piles of trash and debris left by the last flood on December 12th. There are logs jammed into the canoe shed and the logs piled up in front of the canoe float are causing the river to dam up where the club canoes are kept. I've been fighting the flu for most of this past month but I'll be getting out there to tackle that problem soon. Some people have offered to help and if you would like to join us we could use the help. It looks like we're going to have to replace the old chainsaw; recently, I've been helpless without one. The steel cable on the swim float needs to be replaced since it was damaged in the last flood. I finished reading a history of the Potomac River by Frederick Gutheim and I wanted to share this paragraph:

"From the Fairfax stone, where the Potomac rises, to Point Lookout, where it flows at last into the Chesapeake, the diverse yet unified Potomac region has changed in the three hundred years since white men began to settle here. One cannot but conclude that it will change further. This we can learn from history: of the making of Potomacs there is no end. Each age and even each man makes his own. The plastic river is ever shaped anew by a restless nature and a dynamic society. What it has been we have seen: fishery granary, harbor, route, homesite, plantation, hunting ground, mine, power source, factory, capital, swamp, pleasure ground, and more. What it can be remains for us to discover. As men have shaped the river, so it has shaped them. It has made traders, trappers, planters, clerks, miners, farmers, drovers, merchants. What manner of men history will beat out of this anvil no man today can know? But the Potomac will be known for the men it makes." [Frederick A. Gutheim, The Potomac, Johns Hopkins University Press; Reprint edition (May 1986), p. 380.]

-- Peace, Joe Hage, Sycamore Island Caretaker