Categorized | Maine Lighthouse Keeper

Day 246, Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Day 246, Thursday, June 7th, 2012

“Carnival Sky and Killer Squirrel Poetry”

I have found that one can find extraordinary beauty everywhere.  I have seen it in the labyrinths of chemical plants, gas plumes and the smoking stacks that comprise a very small section of New Jersey.  On a table of old, browned, frayed-edged and read books, arranged neatly on a shifty, wobbly folding table, in a flea market on the outskirts of Paris.  In a swirl of crème, atop a cup of Sunday morning’s coffee, pausing before a savored sip, and the still printed paper.  In the curve of an old car fender, on its way to or from a show, as you edge past it on the highway.  In the winded flurry of a frothy girl’s skirt, teasing, as she lithely crosses the street.  And deep within a simple rock, that no one has ever picked up before…has never been held in a human hand, in its million year journey to get to this one, very special place.

This world is filled with little beauties.  If you just look.

This island is like that.  A finite amount of things.  And a limited range of vision.  It forces one to look at every little thing.  Really look.  Because that’s all there is.  And you can find it.  In the simple.







This evening’s light played backwards against the eastern sky, the rocks, and surrounding islands.







As the sun set, on the other side of this the most northeastern island Lighthouse in the US, the heaven that held on, over the lands of the forever protected Bold Coast to my north, became a Carnival swirl of pink and blue cotton candy.  Sweet.  With crystals of floating sugar.  Mixing as some almighty huckster hawked his confectionary consecration.  I listened.  And watched.  And was awed.







One not be on an island, to discover, and revel in such beauty.






I urge you to look.  And see.

On other notes, Super Volunteer Lee Leighton left this afternoon, after spending three days helping me plaster and paint the living room, and umpteen other much-needed improvements.  (wow…”umpteen” is a word…I fully expected a red-lined spell check).  He was a delight to have on island, and not only helped, but greatly enriched my experience here.  Thanks.

A sailboat, the second of the season, arrived this afternoon, flying a Canadian flag.  I went out to the back porch to take a snap and they saw me, and waved.  I waved back.






A note regarding yesterday’s post…  I did not mean to imply that Mr. Hal was a part of the transfer of this Lighthouse from the Coast Guard.  He came in to restore the Keeper’s House after the transfer had taken place.  We have Tim Harrison, perhaps the single most knowledgeable person in North America on lighthouse history, a champion of lighthouse preservation, and the Publisher of Lighthouse Digest Magazine, to thank for that.  And I will try over the next few weeks to share with you on this Keeper’s Journal some of the key milestones and individuals, who also played a role in this incredible work of preservation.  I think it’s important, and interesting, to share.

Finally, regarding the Killer Red Squirrel Brigade, there was not a single skirmish, or even a volley of folly today.  I have received many emails and comments regarding this salty saga.  And yet the best one, is from my friend, frequent participant in the Endeavor site and Keeper’s Journal, and lighthouse expert, Arthur, who was inspired enough to pen this original poem, about this heroic test of wills on this little island lighthouse…I hope you enjoy it…


Instructions to Keepers of the Lights of this Nation’
Contain directions for most every situation,
But not one small bit of useful information,
For the keeper to defend against red squirrel invasion.

So try as he might,
It just isn’t right!
No matter his efforts,
They refuse to take flight.

In the house on chairs and on the table,
As for enjoying ones meals, not at all able.
No flag could be flown for distress if inclined,
For one of these beasts had chewed through the line.

Help did arrive, the lighthouse tender.
Lowered the dory at the port side fenders.
But for seeing those squirrels by the boat house door,
The captain decided it best not go ashore.

This keeper now alone, with no comfort, no aid,
Under constant attack by this squirrel brigade.
No rest during day, and awakened at night,
for bad dreams of squirrels. It’s just not right!

The light at night must always be lit.
Though the keeper had no choice but to quit.
The keeper being forced to abandon his station.
With no willing replacement, the only choice– automation.

With such the light will display night after night.
This light station renamed.—Squirrel Island Light.

Arthur went on to tell me that “it is true that the instructions to Light-Keepers contained no suggestions for how deal with invasions of any sort of critters. The lightkeepers were left to fend for themselves. Such invasions were not all that infrequent and involved animals ranging in size from little field mice to neighboring farm animals and sometimes a full grown moose. Sheep were easy to deal with. The ram, however, don’t turn your back to it.”

Wow!  I am just so taken by this.  I hope you enjoy it too.  The Foghorn sounds.  The Light is extremely bright tonight.  And that’s Good Enuf!


10 Responses to “Day 246, Thursday, June 7th, 2012”

  1. Arthur says:

    The photo of the Canadian visitors — Fully enlarge this image and you may note you were being photographed by the person forward of the mast. The stars and stripes were being displayed from half way up the mast as is the custom when one is in underway in foreign waters. Far less apparent is this boat was under escort by what very much appears to be a loon somewhat forward and a few yard to the starboard side near center in this photo.

    Regarding the suggested name Squirrel Island Light, there are several lights on the Maine Coast named for beasts or foul. Included are; Owls Head, Great Duck, Heron Neck, Goose Rocks, Goat Island, Bear Island, Eagle Island, Ram Island, Ram Island Ledge, Deer Island Thorofare and Squirrel Point. A lighthouse was requested with funding allocated for Otter Island but a light was not established. There is also Moose Peak Light but this was not named for such a beast, but it is a corruption or phonemic association of the name Moosabec, and the lighthouse is on Mistake Island, the name of which may be the result of an early mariner’s folly.

  2. Lorie says:

    This is a great post Bill. One of my favorites! Love the poem; magnificent pics. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Carole says:

    We love our squirrels but they drive us nuts. We love those darn little critters but they need to find of homes of their own. Oh no they send me an email saying they waiting and wanting for someone to build them three story homes – they want big size homes in the woods on Little River Island of course. They do plan on coming back to house sometimes for a snack or two.

    Yes, we love you squirrels oh yes we do – we don’t mind them visiting for just an hour or two. So dear, dear squirrels you all need to find a homes of your own. In thinking it over you build could build them on your own. Yes, I realize that building them would take up a lot of time – so to get you started I am going to send Billy squirrel building material of just the right kind. In doing this plus I will supply some food other goodies and snack foods of course. I will provide all of this just for all of you. However my conditions for doing are the following: The conditions are that you leave Billy and house at Little River Island alone for most of the day and all the night time. You will go back to your own homes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You might be allowed on the lighthouse lawn if you are good for a snack or two. No sneaking into the Lighthouse home or even tower you are not allowed to roam. Yes dear squirrels I do think that this a very fair deal. Billy will not be bothered by the sight of you and he will get some much needed rest. You squirrels will get new homes,fresh food and super snacks. Yes I think is a good deal for you – so please take up my offer dear squirrels and please leave Billy and house next to Little River Lighthouse alone.

  4. elayne kitchen says:

    Surely is wonderful to have the likes of Carole and Arthur to add to your great Journal.
    Things I miss in photos get me to go back and “Look See” to enjoy even better your fine photo work… are we blessed or what?
    Love all the details….can hardly wait for my trip this summer…..really getting excited.
    Would appreciate removal of all varmits by then…..keep the light on…..mb

  5. Tim Harrison says:

    Great poem by Arthur – very well written and humerous too – he’s got some real talent and lighthouse knowledge also. Watch out Bill, you’ve got some competition with your writing skills.

  6. Mary Kennedy says:

    This one of your best and prettiest, posts yet. Loved the poem. Do understand about squirrels. Lived in a house once that they played in loft above my bedroom all night with the mothballs that were to deter them. It sounded like they were playing ball, and bowling at the same time, and squealing in glee of enjoyment. So I dooo understand !!!

  7. Arthur says:

    To quote Bill Bunting, A Days Work, Part I , 1997
    “There can be no greater goal for historians than to present history–particularly economic history–in ways that engage the curiosity of the general public. Academic historians primarily write for each other. Historical writing, however, unlike brain surgery, is open to everyone; indeed one great advantage of being an amateur historian — I am a bulldozer operator — is freedom from peer review.”

    Likewise for a journal; write to describe and inform and also write to entertain, — have fun and always avoid taking oneself too seriously. Bill, this is what you have been doing. Know also your journal may in future become reference material for historical authors yet to be born. But don’t let that bother you in the least, just be yourself. More importantly your journal will provide lots of material from which to select when you decide to write your book.

  8. Arthur says:

    Inspired by Carole’s post above.
    Try as I might I could not resist!


    We love you squirrels, yes we do!
    You can visit an hour or two.

    But not to stay too very long.
    Then go back where you belong.

    Vistiting hours are two to four
    No exceptions. That’s for sure.

    No sneaking in the lighthouse home.
    And in the tower do not roam.

    If you are found in a room,
    Bill with chase you with his broom.

    Accross the lawn and to the trees.
    No longer welcome, if you please.

    So good behavior is best for you,
    If you wish more visits an hour or two.

  9. Carole says:

    The squirrels have emailed me Arthur about this latest post they do not like this latest list of rules you propose. They want me ‘to reply however I must first get some sleep however this may be hard because they found my phone number you realize what this means. More emails to read and phone messages to be listened to. Oh by the way the Canada squirrels have gotten in on this to. I think they are planning a visit of sorts by running on to boats that are going Billy’s and Little River Island way.

    Billy (the troop is taking turns sleeping my spies tell this) Yes, Billy I am doing my part to resolve the issues between man and squirrels. Arthur your poems are making me laugh.

  10. Dan says:

    One of my favorite posts so far. Well done. And THANK YOU for the qualifying “the smoking stacks that comprise a very small section of New Jersey.” “A very small section” is right. I’m always glad when my home state isn’t judged on just a few miles of the Turnpike.


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