Passers-by see just an old lighthouse. They donít see beyond the patches of peeling paint or the rust where the platform railing is slowly eroding. They canít hear the music of the wind on nights when it blows through seams too minute to be seen. Or the echoes of countless footsteps that climbed up and down the spiral staircase. All they see is another sad, old piece of history that has served its purpose, seen its day and is ready to be demolished. They canít see the personality and the memories that hide behind the exterior.
Photo Credit: Canadian Stories
I am a lighthouse. I was built many years ago, when men still worked with lumber that was sawn in local mills, iron nails and hand saws. Everything was done by hand and the men took great pride in their work. The sand that was mixed with the cement to form my concrete base came from nearby too. I am, therefore, part of the history and heritage of this land.
My first light was an oil lamp that had to be filled and lit each night. The Light-keeper would climb the long winding staircase to reach the platform. There he would pour in the oil, light the lamp and then make his way down to the floor again. During the short days of winter the lamp would have to be refilled around midnight. In winter he kept a cot and a pile of blankets here for use during blizzard conditions because in such conditions, the light must not be allowed to go out.
Those first years were harsh, when my wooden interior turned white with frost in the winter. The cold seeped into my bones until I creaked and groaned. At such times the Light-keeper would have to use extreme caution when climbing the treacherous, icy staircase. Then, in the summer, the heat pinned inside my walls was such that it felt like a furnace and I sometimes feared I might spontaneously combust! From spring to autumn visitors often came just for the opportunity to climb the staircase to the platform and take in the breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside.
Although repairs have been carried out over the years, my structure is very old. I have been through storms so severe that my foundation shook with the fury of gale-force winds. I have even lived through several hurricanes and more blizzards that I can count.
Now, those with the power to do so have decided that I have outlived my usefulness and the time has come for demolition. In all honesty, I must agree with them. I am growing weary of being frozen or toasted Ė depending on the season Ė and of being battered by the elements. Let them do what must be done. Memories of me will remain with those who have visited or have heard stories told by their ancestors.
© Fay Herridge
Published in Canadian Stories, Apr/May 2017 (89th Photo Story Contest)
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