Notes from the Island
April 2004

We've survived our second winter (I think it's safe to say that) and now we consider ourselves, not greenhorns, but seasoned veterans of this rustic lifestyle known as Sycamore Island. Another spring on the island and I feel the winter retreating from my bones. The return of each new plant or bird brings new excitement to this river refuge. The sun has migrated back and its giant arch has brought with it the colors and sounds of a world come alive. The seagulls have gone with the winter cold and the flocks of cormorants have filled the void, their silhouettes busy against the sky at sunset. The wood duck, the kingfisher, the great blue heron, the osprey, the bald eagle, and all my other non-winter neighbors have returned and I'm delighted with their company. The warm air has brought out our resident groundhog from its deep sleep and it is now busy trying to get fat. It's usually seen running for its hideout under the clubhouse, a piece of grass hanging from its mouth. To my amazement the bluebells and other wild flowers have emerged yet again. The way they defy gravity and break through the thick layers of mud and sediment year after year is truly incredible. The warm weather also brings out the people, and soon the beaver and the raccoon won't be our most frequent visitors.

The geese have all staked out their territory and soon they will all be sitting on clutches of four or five eggs. Hiking around the island can be a little treacherous now as the geese defend their young. Please be careful and try to give the geese some space. Hopefully, they will be gone soon.

We managed to get the canoe float back in the river. What a crew we had: John Matthews, John Stapko, Sherry Pettie, Tryon Wells, Jim Drew, Gerry Barton and myself. No decision was unanimous but we worked hard all morning and got the job done. Sherry (a waitlister) earned a free weekend pass. I fixed a window and a light fixture and the two pipes that burst over the winter. The water is back on in the clubhouse so please wash your dishes, and remember to take your trash with you when you leave. I cleaned all the leaves and limbs from the top of the canoe shed and I found a big goose egg; it must have been a dud from last year.

The spring weather is great, and it's especially nice to see my daughters enjoying the island with their friends. It makes me happy to see them build a tree house or play capture the flag. That's why I moved here.

I won't be here between the second and the 11th of April. I'm taking the kids on a road trip for spring break. We're going to Florida to explore the canoe trails down there. While I'm gone the island will be under the competent supervision of my climbing partner and good friend, Duncan Thomson and his family. Please don't hesitate to lend him a hand if he needs it and please try to make him feel welcome and appreciated. Thanks, and I'll see all of you here for the work fest on April 25th!

-- Peace, Joe Hage, Sycamore Island Caretaker