Reviews are part of the profession known as writing. If you ask any author, a bad or lukewarm evaluation can be disturbing. But, if you are a good writer you learn from every assessment. Not too long ago I received what I would call a middle of the road evaluation on one of my books, A Year At the Lighthouse. The important comment the reviewer made was: “…the book lacks information and sentiment that die-hard lighthouse enthusiasts, preservationists and historians would appreciate…”
I have thought a lot about that comment. What do the die-hard lighthouse enthusiasts expect? The question everyone asks me when we first meet is: what it is like to live at a lighthouse station. My usual response is: great or incredible! It is the expected response and a true one. What most people do not understand is that living at a lighthouse is pretty much like living anywhere else on a day-to-day basis.
The history that has transpired in the building is never forgotten nor do you get over the natural beauty that surrounds you. There is always an emotional response when you stand out under the revolving beacon and look at the stars while listening to the crashing of the waves on the rocks. It is very special indeed!
My days at Eshaness Lighthouse are full of the ordinary things that most people do everyday. I get up, have my cup of coffee and then begin my day. My activities vary from a day of writing, doing the wash and hanging it out, or cooking and cleaning. The same things I do in Michigan on the farm or if we lived in New York City.
I often think what living at the lighthouse would be like if I did not have a telephone, internet access, radio and television. I even have the most recent movie DVD delivered by mail so I can watch one on a stormy and cold night. I have gone days without some of these conveniences and it is a little unsettling but always an adventure. Most of you who have read this column have experienced some of these events with me.
Living at the lighthouse is living like any of my readers. The only difference is the constant reminder of the history of the building as signified by the beacon coming on every night or the coming and going of the Northern Lighthouse Board helicopter and the technicians. I like the ability to go out and sit on a rock to have my lunch and watch the seals play in the water, which would be hard to do in Michigan.
My book tells the story of the true activities, which are part of living at a lighthouse in the modern day world.
If the lighthouse enthusiasts want something different, then I suggest they read a lighthouse history book. The people who live in a lighthouse live in a modern world and most of the time their life is just like yours. The only condition I would put on that statement is the remoteness of the location of the lighthouse does lead to some rather unique events that may not be found in other areas. The biggest culprit is the ever changing weather around the sea. Weather disasters are common in cities also so I guess living is an adventure wherever you live.
This story appeared in the
July 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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