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Monday, September 6, 2010

Looking Out

I wrote this post a year ago, but that was back before Middle Passages had readers.  Seems like a good time for a rerun.

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to live in a lighthouse? I’ve pondered that thought since discovering The Word from Old Scituate Light, a blog about a family who moved into the keeper’s cottage at the lighthouse one town over. I can hear the young daughter answering a friend's question: “Where do you live?” as, “Oh, down at the point.” “Which house?” “The one at the end; you know, the one with the tower attached?” I imagine her response to an English composition assignment: "What makes you special?" as something like, “I may be an regular kid, but there aren't too many people who live in a house like mine.”

Other than a power-walk past it with a friend this summer, I hadn’t visited the lighthouse or the jetty lately. So yesterday, after lunch at our one of our favorite home cooking spots, in acknowledgement of the last day before school begins, my daughter and I drove the winding lane around the harbor to the lighthouse. Years ago my husband and I climbed the stone tower itself during an open house. Recalling that, I pictured iron steps leading up to a little girl’s circular bedroom, which of course is not the case; the house is attached to the tower, not a part of it.

Finished in weathered grey shingles, bordered by a rock-lined garden blooming with fall mums, the keeper’s cottage stands New England stark and plain. Without the white tower stuck to its side, it would resemble a modest home like any other. Only, to the left the teal blue Atlantic somersaults, and out front and to the right, granite jetties point like fingers to the channels and moorings of Scituate Harbor.

Wandering the public area, with ankles that gave as I picked my way over the sloping sea rock lawn, I mulled what it would be like to wake at dawn, surrounded by water on three sides as the fiery sun heaves itself over the horizon shelf, or, during the adventure of a fierce Nor’easter. I can hear the wind moaning and whistling around corners, the clank of the halyard on the flag pole out back barely audible over the crash of water hitting the jetty.

We’ve visited the lighthouse after storms, when rocks and seaweed litter the parking lot behind it. The jetty and tower likely protect the keeper's quarters from the open sea, but there’d be little sleep during the relentless tossing and turning of an angry winter night. Storms are only part of the story though. Someday, the little girl that lives in the house will be my age. Perhaps she’ll live in Iowa, or Kansas, surrounded by children who have never seen the ocean.

Taking a deep breath, she’ll describe the rumble of lobster boats departing at sunup and the shriek of seagulls hanging suspended as they beat their wings against a strong east wind. Closing her eyes, once again she'll listen to rocks that clatter and tumble as the green sea recedes, and have to yell to be understood over the boom of the waves. Her nose will wrinkle at the briny smell of seaweed at low tide.

She'll witness the color of the sun, setting pink below the blackened outlines of the town across the harbor; the utter darkness at night as she peers out toward the sea.

What types of buildings or places inspire you?


Tabitha Bird said...

I loved this post then. I love it now.

Old buildings that inspire me? I love old churches or old cottages that are turned into beautiful homes.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I imagine there's no sleep for anyone on a stormy night. Besides, that's when the lighthouse is most needed, so there'd be work to do.
Castles inspire me.

Elana Johnson said...

I live in a land-locked state, and when we went to California, I loved visiting the lighthouses. They're beautiful and haunting to me. Great post.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Man, I want to live where you live!! You guys are so so blessed to call this place home. And yes, I've also wondered what it would be like to live in a lighthouse. *sigh* Would be so cool.

How did you guys do with Earl? Any problems??

arlee bird said...

Lighthouses have pretty nice views, but logistically they seem like odd places to live. I really like the way lighthouses look though.

I especially like large old train stations and ornate vaudeville era theatres. There is so much history and so many people that have been in these places.

Tossing It Out

Helen Ginger said...

I think this shows why it's important for writers to live in or visit or know the areas that they write about. No way could I have described this scene the way you did.

glnroz said...

relinquished,,but still standing...

Helen Ginger said...

Liza, stopped by again today to tell you I gave you an award today.


Erin MacPherson said...

I love your blog... the pics are INCREDIBLE and the words only add details to the pics. Thank you. And yes, now I am wondering what it's like to live in a lighthouse.

Cheryl said...

I'm inspired by just about anything on the coast. Nubble is a favorite destination but some of the lighthouses further up the coast of Maine are more intriguing.

N. R. Williams said...

I love your pictures and your writing put me there. I live in Colorado and have only once been to the beach. Found you through Helen and now we're friends.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Haddock said...

I would love to try it out. (living in a light house)
The have an old world charm of its own.

Nick Thomas said...

Lighthouse keeper has always been my ideal job, were it not for the fact that I suffer from aquaphobia, agroaphobia, acrophobia, monophobia, and of course, thalassophobia.

Good blog.