Sunday, October 2, 2011
Thanks to the Friends of Seguin Island Light Station, Ethan DeBery and Drew Flaherty, I was back this September on Seguin as Caretaker for four nights and five glorious days from the 22nd to the 27th, although it seemed like July if the weather was a barometer. The first couple of days were thick with fog but when it finally cleared, the sun, the warmth, the stillness and the lush green landscape reminded me of mid July. The island was wet and unusually green. The big difference was the absence of gulls and the abundance of monarch butterflies, and most of the trees were bare. Bright orange tiny berries hung in clusters on the mountain ash.
We mowed down below where the tram starts around the Donkey House and the Outhouse, and up at the top around the Keepers’ House and Tower, twice. Ethan and Drew did a great job clearing the camp ground near the cove. They also uncovered, at its northern edge, huge gears and heavy iron equipment left from a previous era of coal use on the island. These relics are now totally exposed.
The other big task accomplished while I was “in charge” so to speak, was the extreme edging of the walkways initiated by Captain DeBery and the clearing of sod from the stone and brick path leading to the back door of the tower. As I write, my hand still aches from the arduous task of pulling up the sod that had completely grown around most of the rocks and deep into the sand below. It’s beautiful now and restored, but cries for someone to build it up again with buckets of sand.
Most worrisome for me during my time back on Seguin was the light in the tower going off three times in four days! Ethan had said there was a problem. On my first morning, two women appeared whom I invited to tour the museum and tower. At the top, I urged them to peek up by the staircase leading into the lens and caught myself up short: neither of the two 1000 watt bulbs was lit.
Fortunately the auxiliary backup lights on the catwalk had kicked in and hopefully shone through the fog somehow.
I finally called Steve, the duty officer with the Coast Guard, who reminded me where to find the reset button and the circuit breaker switch in the Whistle House. It’s feared that there is a short in the underground cable that breaks the circuit in heavy rain, of which there had been an abundance. And when it wasn’t raining, it was still very wet. The circuit board was unusually hot.
My first dinner found ten people at the dining table. I’m glad I knew where to find the two leaves to extend the table in the closet in the living room. There was such an abundance of food: Guinness beef stew, lobster salad, lobster pasta, chicken soup and Greek salad. When you pool your resources you can easily come up with a feast. It reminded me of the parable of the loaves and the fishes.
I was left alone on my final day for three hours before replacement caretakers Tim and Lynne arrived. I had ample time to tweak the quarters and bring the level of preparedness up to my standard, and still had plenty of time to swim, sun and take final photographs.
I’d sent my big bag off in the morning, down the tram and onto Ethan’s boat when everyone left, and was ready to go when Ethan arrived back with Tim and Lynne, preceded by the arrival of two sailing ships from Wiscasset with student sailors destined to spend the night in the cove (and the campground, with our consent).
I’d been working the tram since I arrived (no one else dared crank it up), and once Tim and Lynne were loaded and installed, they invited Ethan and me to a cocktail before we left. Not wanting to deplete their supplies, as they had brought on provisions to last two weeks, we stuck to what we had left behind which was rum, coke and fruit juice. Not my beverage of choice but it was a sweet accompaniment to one last sunset I didn’t think I’d be able to witness on the island.
By the time we left the cove, it was chilly and the moonless and clear night was illuminated with brilliant stars. But the brightest light by far was the one the emanated from the top of the tower.
Thank you FOSILS and Captain DeBery for such a wonderful revisit to a paradise that will always be very close to my heart.