Europe has castles, America has lighthouses. People are drawn to these monuments by the sea. The lights speak to an age when so many livelihoods depended on the ocean and overcoming its tempestuous moods.
Imagine being on a wooden ship two-hundred years ago on a moonless night with whipping winds, steady rain, swells rolling under the hull, and knowing you are close to a rocky coastline. No motor. No satellite map to assist. A beam of flashing light, or the rhythmic boom of a foghorn in the distance would be the most welcome reassurance. Your guide for a safe return home.
2020, and Two Memorable Lighthouses
Nubble Lighthouse – In early March 2020, just before all our lives changed in ways few predicted, my wife and I went on a weekend overnight down in York, Maine. The Inn bustled with couples, families, even a wedding party. It was a fun one-night getaway exploring a quiet coastal town with dinner out and the absence of a three-year-old to wake us up in the morning.
On the way home we took the slow scenic route. The wind had been steady that weekend. The waves were big. We stopped often to watch the surf on the way to Cape Neddick. At Nubble Point many were there to see Nubble Lighthouse which sits on a small island across a narrow channel of water. We talked about what the life of the lighthouse keeper must have been like over 100 years ago – the challenges, and deep sense of responsibility the light keepers must have felt to guide mariners safely home.
Bass Harbor Head – June 2020, we headed north this time on a camping trip to Bass Harbor on Mt. Desert Island. The island was covid-quiet. Almost all the cars were from Maine, a rarity around Acadia National Park in summer. Our campground was within a mile of Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.
One evening, while my wife and son prepped for bedtime, I went down to the lighthouse around sunset. I climbed out onto the rocks. The air was still, the ocean smooth. I watched as boats headed home in the fading golden light. The lighthouse was nearly hidden from where I sat, surrounded by spruce trees, perched above salmon-colored cliffs. A silent sentry. After twenty minutes it was time to get back to camp, back to my family.
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