Sessile-leaved bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia)

Starflower (Trientalis borealis)

Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana)

Photos by Thomas Kent.

From the President

Now that the long winter is behind us and thoughts of the polar vortex thankfully fade, our attention turns to the most welcomed season—spring. Days are longer, peepers are peeping, and warblers migrate through the island. This is the bloom time for spring ephemerals, the wildflowers that make their appearance before the tree leaves are fully out. These flowers are so named due to the fact that for many, all traces of their presence disappear by summer. Some of these flowers that can be found on Fishers include starflower (Trientalis borealis), sessile-leaved bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia), wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia), and Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana). Other spring wild flowers that are not as ephemeral (i.e. leaves persist beyond the flowering period) include the Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), the star-like false Solomon’s seal (M. stellatum) and a variety of violets (Viola spp.). Spring is a good time to enjoy Museum trails and to look for these early wildflowers.

Unlike many of the island’s flora and fauna, the Museum has not been dormant this winter. Our Director, Pierce Rafferty, has been hard at work planning for our upcoming season. The summer exhibit entitled “Coming and Going: A History of Transportation to Fishers Island” promises to be one of his most ambitious to date. We also have a number of programs lined up, both for adults and children. Our Smith Vaughan lecture this year will be presented by Dr. Richard Primack whose current research focuses on the impacts of climate change on the flowering and leafing out times of plants and the spring arrival of birds. The main geographical focus of his research is Concord, Massachusetts, due to the availability of extensive phenology records kept by Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond in the 1850s.

The Museum is also embarking upon a major project— the completion of our second floor. Since the new museum opened in 2003, the unfinished second floor has been used primarily for storage and exhibit preparation. There have been numerous occasions when we have wished that we could have used the space for lectures and programs, particularly children’s programs during rainy days or when the outdoor deck was excessively hot. Building code handicap requirements oblige us to construct an elevator or lift to provide additional access to the second floor space. The Museum was spurred on to complete this project by the very generous donation of the late Jerry Riegel’s nautical library from Barbie Riegel and her family. We now have the final plans and expect to begin the renovation in the fall of 2014. We would welcome any contributions toward this effort.

I look forward to seeing many of you at our Museum opening party on June 28, 2014. All are welcome!

– Penni Sharp, President