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I Am My Brother’s (Lighthouse) Keeper– Part Deux

October 15, 2012

The wind hisses outside my bedroom windows upstairs here at the lighthouse.  Below that sound is a low rumble of waves crashing ashore.  Outside it’s pitch black except for the white flash of the automated light signal perched atop a steel tower 200 feet away.  Its’ one second on/five seconds off cycle is repeated with comforting regularity.  Not quite a strobe light like a camera, the flash still illuminates the wind whipped rain and very low clouds, which seem ready to engulf us at any time.

I listen to the NOAA weather radio perched next to my bed.  The computer-generated words are flat and emotionless while describing gale storm warnings and waves up to 12 feet tall on the open waters of Lake Michigan.  Out here on the very tip of the peninsula, the weather station reports winds from the north at 30 knots with gusts above 40.  It’s not quite cold, 49˚F.  But it’s really ugly out there.

Happily, the lighthouse keeper’s quarters are toasty warm and dry.  My Pops and I spent a busy weekend tending to our lightkeeper duties both inside and out.  We both packed our Gore Tex jackets.  They came in handy.  It rained hard yesterday, even harder today.  It has rained the entire weekend.

On one hand it kinda bummed me out.  I was looking forward to riding my road bike into the town of Northport before breakfast, about 10 miles away.  They have free wifi available near the marina that I planned to use since none is available at the lighthouse.  But after only pedaling about 50 feet, I felt my first drops of rain.  I usually don’t mind riding in the rain, but not for as long as I was about to ride.  I drove into town instead, using the car to bring my dad a fresh, hot cup of coffee and a half dozen crispy cinnamon sugar doughnuts for us to share.  That’s a pretty good trade, though my belly and atrophying leg muscles don’t agree.

On the other hand, I like the stormy weather.  My Pops does too.  Together we agreed it just added an authentic flavor to our experience as lightkeepers.  Imagine life out here without electricity or indoor plumbing—the lighthouse didn’t get either until 1951!  That meant no NOAA weather radios to warn of severe storms.  No luxurious hot showers either.

The wind and rain continue unabated and the effect is spooky.  All we would need are a few flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder and we’d be present in a real life horror film set.  Happily, the only unauthorized creatures we’ve seen have been a few spiders and one little black mouse.  They appear unarmed.

Tomorrow the rain is supposed to taper off.  Still, the forecast calls for rainfall on and off for the rest of our week.  We’re okay with it.  This sturdy brick building has survived 162 years stuck out here on this remote prominence.  It’s not going anywhere anytime soon.  We’ll be here, too.  After all, the museum opens again at noon and we have to make sure the place is ship-shape.  That’s our job.  Outside, the light continues to flash, pointing out our existence to any hapless sailor who might be unlucky to be caught up in this wicked storm.



From → Family Stuff

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