An Autumn Return in the Time of Covid-19 and Solar Power

I’m so happy to be back out on the island at the lighthouse with Cyndy doing a stint again as caretaker this fall. I’m back to my usual duties as chief cook. We’ve already had some great meals and it’s only the third day.

Friday, September 11, 2020

My Amtrak trip up to Boston and Concord bus to Bath were uneventful and quiet with good inter-net access and everyone obeying the rules.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

We were so excited anticipating the day ahead and a week back on Seguin that an alarm wasn’t even needed to get us moving at 4 a.m., still dark with a chill in the air, to do the final packing before heading out to meet the boat at 6:30. The late summer day couldn’t have been more beautiful with clear skies and surprisingly mild temperatures. Chris and Debbie, the couple who have been here on the island all summer (and last summer!) greeted us in the cove; Chris came out in the island dingy to row us to shore with all of our provisions, from Ethan’s lobster boat. We would have until he and his mate finished hauling traps for the day to chat and catch up with Chris and Debbie, before they would have to leave it to Cyndy and me to take over for the next week. I had never seen the new installation of solar energy to power the island so Chris gave us a tour and took us to the Whistle House, the island workshop and tool shed, where the Coast Guard maintains a room for the light in the tower; or did. It has been emptied out and the 1970s electronics have been replaced with the brains for the solar panels that the FRIENDS have installed.

The Guard put a small panel on a rock just west of the tower to power the new light they have installed in the First Order Fresnel lens that has sat inside the top of the tower since 1857.

I’ve never seen the Whistle House so organized and tidy; I could walk comfortably barefoot. It was sad to see them leave. Once we’d tied the dingy up on the rocks in the cove after helping them out to meet Ethan in his lobster boat, we took the trail back up top, smelling the fresh scents of fall in the air and realizing that it was just the two of us alone here on this glorious island for the next week and we were On Vacation! Once we settled in to that a bit, we set out to put together dinner for our first night: we baked halibut with cherry tomatoes.

The inter-net connection was good enough to participate in our once a week family Zoom. I gave everyone a tour around the island.

And an important part of the first night for us was watching the sunset, and fortunate for us, the breeze was balmy and the sunset spectacular. As we faced west sitting on the sunset bench high above the sea gazing at the sun with Popham Beach three miles away we suddenly became aware of the presence of someone behind us. It shouldn’t have been a surprise because there are visitors popping up from their boats in the cove often, especially in good weather (they’ve welcomed 1200 visitors this summer!), they usually don’t appear so late in the day. Then a voice said, “you’re not Chris and Debbie.” It was Rod who had sailed in, barefoot and disappointed. We chatted for a short time before he was off to warm his feet on the old cistern behind the Whistle House, on the concrete disc which had been baking in the sun all day. He was so glad he made it up to the top just in time to see the sunset with us.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

We spent most of the next morning getting a beef roast into the slow cooker and putting together a very complicated heirloom tomato pie. It was worth it!

Last night the wind kicked in and the seas rose up. Today it’s overcast and a little cooler. And the mosquitoes have adapted to daytime hunger. Ugh!

We were so happy to participate in an event we’d never seen before on the island. One of the local lobstermen passed away and at noon there was a parade of 14 lobster boats, filled with six times as many people, which motored single file around the island and then all met in the cove for a service, which we caught on our walkie talkies, and a casting of flowers and the ashes into the sea. It was very moving and I’m glad I could capture some of it and have been a witness to a very fine tribute.

 

I sent this photo to a friend and he wrote back that it didn’t look like I was working all that hard. I wrote back that it was Sunday.

The big new this this year is the installation of solar power. For more than a year after the power cable was cut off by the Coast Guard, the island was powered by generator. This spring, after 18 trips by helicopter, solar is here and running smoothly.

With solar powering the light at the top of the tower, it’s a big adjustment. The 1000 watt bulb that was powered by electricity was replaced by something that looks like an hour glass painted black on the top and the bottom. Before the light could be seen from 20 miles away; now just 14. Perhaps the oil that was used years ago was not more than that. We were spoiled by the electric adaptation I suppose. I don’t see as much of the prism effect either. It just looks sparkly and a little blue.

It was very satisfying to sit down to Sunday beef stew in the evening after our first full day on the island, and the tomato pie we’d worked so long to prepare.

Monday, September 14, 2020

 

This morning it was scrambled eggs with bacon and island made blackberry jam (from native berries). Then we put together a new recipe for summer squash casserole and were one step closer to dinner. I thought the tomato pie tasted even better the second day, reheated for lunch, which we ate out at the picnic table in the sun.

We have been doing some cleaning-up and tidying-up chores along the way so that by the end of the week, the place will be in good order for Tim and Lynne. We had thought to begin scraping painted surfaces of the Oil House in preparation for protective paint but thought it was too windy.

Instead, Cyndy suggested we take the Cobblestone Beach Trail in the afternoon, where we discovered a number of Cairns at low tide. There were some sizeable waves crashing against the rocks and it was fun to lie on the hot rocks watching the cresting waves creating shooting jets of spray.

 

We discovered evidence of a memorial on Cobblestone Beach.

If felt so good to lie down on the hot rocks.

 

Like the tomato pie, the leftover fish and cherry tomatoes was so much better the second time around. And the casserole was a hit even though the breadcrumbs went into the dish and the crumbled Ritz Crackers went on the top when it was supposed to be the other way around.

 

And of course there were more games of cards to be played and e-mails to catch up on. It doesn’t look like the crew will be able to get out this Wednesday; 45 mph sustained winds are expected. Ethan is hoping that by the weekend he can get us off. There’s no hurry: we’re on vacation!

My hotspot goes in and out connecting to the inter-net so I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post. Cheers to all! Glad to be back.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The morning was a bit hazy.  I think we may be getting a bit of the polluted air from the fires in the West.  My brother is really suffering in Oregon.  I’m glad we can stay in touch.

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