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Monday, August 10, 2009

Not Cast in Stone

An editor arrived Saturday evening in the form of nautical charts my husband withdrew from the cockpit of his sailboat and unrolled in order to educate me on the names of the rocks outside of our harbor. As I ran my finger across the tiny inked circles representing the grinding molars and bicuspids that make up the ledges off the coast, I realized in Friday’s blog I identified the shelf the kayakers paddled past as East Shag Rock when indeed it is West Shag Rock. I stand corrected--a little lesson for me to engage in a bit of research before I assume I know the facts, which I admit, is a pretty sizable failing of mine.

Memories are strange critters in the way that they cloud and fog and drift around like ghosts, then reconstruct themselves into a shape far from the original. I tend to be insistent on my version of events, over the top in my sureness, only to be forced to back down when my error is proven. Not that anyone was challenging me on the rock names, it just happened that my husband and I were discussing hazards off our shore and he wanted to map them out for me. We leaned together as we poured over blue, green and brown topographical guideline, fingering “The Shags,” (wherein I discovered my error) and the “East” and “West Willies,” and Hogshead Rock--which, the last time we sailed as a family, our daughter pointed out looks more like a frog’s head, but once again, I digress. We peered over the page and identified Sutton Rock, Black Rock and Gun Rock, wondering if they were named for the first ships’ captains who had the unfortunate experience of foundering off of them. Hmmm, Captain Hogshead?

One of the most dangerous of the ledges around us is marked by our granite lighthouse, which I’ve mentioned before is called Minot’s Light . Surrounded by a frothing ocean, this warning beacon climbs from the sea—solitary, embedded on the dangerous ridge about a mile from shore, constructed in interlocking granite blocks that wedge tighter each time a wave crashes against it. According The Quincy Patriot Ledger, our local newspaper, this landmark is up for grabs, having been deemed excess by the Coast Guard, another casualty of our current economic times. The Coast Guard will continue to maintain the prism and the fog horn, but if not acquired by a non-profit, you too can bid on an austere stone monolith that points from the middle of the ocean like a finger up to the sky. I guess it goes to show that I’m in good company as it pertains to budget cuts. A 149 year-old lighthouse and my 23 year-old job, both victims of financial shortfalls--two certainties in life that I used to consider cast in stone, that clearly weren't—a fact that doesn’t require much research at all.

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