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Day 129 – Tuesday, February 14, 2012

“Little River Island Lighthouse Love”

I am not ashamed to admit, nor too proud, that I am many things, some good and some not so good, but a romantic is certainly one of them.  Any degree of attached “hopelessly so” however has been heartily debated, and in my own defense that’s most surely been a moving target, at least on my best day.  So here it is Valentines Day 2012, and I have been blessed enough to have spent it on one of the most romantic fifteen acres anchored in the ocean, ringed by an usually black, craggy, now snow-covered coastline; a coastline which serves as single-minded sentinel to the soaring stands of momentarily white-dolloped pines.






I believe most of us place islands pretty high on the “romantic list”, whether that be Little River, or Manhattan.  OK, I admit Manhattan might not get the same degree of unanimity, but that she’d get the same degree of passion I do not doubt, and I’m quite willing to argue for it.  Additionally, the human race, from the time of the Egyptians to today, people the world over have romanticized lighthouses, in lore, deed, desire and wanting.  It is no accident that we put them on pedestals.   This Valentines Day I am able to share both of them with you.  Lets just call it some  “Little River Island Lighthouse Love”.






Temperatures that have warmed to the 5 to 20 degree range, and a wind that has seemingly dropped her sails and put into harbor since Sunday have combined to leave this “Winter Wonderland” largely and delightfully undisturbed.







Making my way over this rugged rock I purposely seek out drifts, banded then settled schools of snow that have risen like waves, bleached of all pigment but their somethingness, deceitful and hushed, hiding all manner of rocks, wood and grasses at unknown depths below, and lending a decidedly childlike delusion of danger to my exploration.






Winter’s marshlands on Little River have become a summer’s beach, bathed with shifting sands of snow, swirling slower than the eye can see.






This beach-head of beaten but not divided rock now takes on a grand sense of comedy, transformed into a sprawling tray of Gulliver-sized confections; haphazard candies, expertly plopped with a mostly-right sized dollop of whipped marshmallow crème.






And a loose wintry tribute to Georgia O’Keefe…







The single window on the Boathouse suggested I stop to examine the almost microscopic crystals that had taken up residence there, growing like a germ, one that given enough time would multiply increasingly rapidly until it held still the entire structure equally, inside and out, a crystalline invasion that would end in a shroud of cold suffocation, and collapse.






On a lighter note, Valentines Day seems like the perfect time to mention Minot’s Ledge Light, located only a mile offshore and just outside Boston Harbor, and quite famously, known as “Lover’s Light“.  O’Brien, Longfellow and Keller are just some of the writers who have romanticized this staggering work of beauty, and engineering.





The light is called “Lover’s Light”, (or sometimes the I Love Youlight), because of the pattern and timing of her flashing lamp.  Different lights have different sequences that they project so that mariners can easily identify which light they are looking at.   These personal sequences are listed online and on charts, and help prevent a Captain from mistaking one nearby light for another, which would usually mean disaster.

The Minot Ledge Light’s sequence is 1-4-3.  Many will recognize that as lover’s code meaning “I Love You” – the number of letters in each word corresponding to the timing of the flash pattern.  Thousands of lovers have come to stand together and view this majestic tower’s shining signal, for that one important reason.  I love that, although it occurs to me that there’s another inspiring and eminently fitting metaphor at play here, beautifully illustrated by these stunning photos (credited on rollover fyi), and this fabled prose below, fond in its day and a favorite among lightkeepers and their wives…






Shone to storms, of untold fury

Foundation rocked, where bricks first laid

Her light be questioned, by darkness verily

Love’s beams brightly, unafraid



Here’s a neat spot to learn more about the light:

And a great story on the lost bell of Minots from Lighthouse Digest:

Thanks for reading, sharing, “Liking” and supporting The Lighthouse Endeavor.  I’ll leave Love’s Light on.  Happy Valentine’s Day.  Good Enuf.


13 Responses to “Day 129 – Tuesday, February 14, 2012”

  1. Tim Harrison says:

    To learn more about the Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse mentioned in this post of the Lighthouse Endeavor read the story of the lost bell in the archives of Lighthouse Digest at:

  2. Arthur says:

    Some years ago the Coast Guard planned to install a new lamp at Minots that would have changed the 143 flash to a simple flash pattern. As a result of protests from the local communities the 143 was retained. In many places one will read that Captain Frederick Mahan suggested all lights might have a numeric flash. Not true. Such only for the offshore (primary and secondary lights) and inshore lights not to flash thus mariners could effectively distinguish that which were the offshore lights. And the pattern chosen for Minots was not by chance but was based on flash pattern criteria put forth by Mahan and I believe he chose the pattern. This was in 1891 when this lens and a second lens with a 4-5 flash were ordered from the lens maker in France.

  3. Seamond says:

    Speaking of Minot’s, when I was a kid, our neighbor Frank Small had a large lithograph of the old Minot’s tumbling into the sea. While I was fascinated by this and would look at it for hours, my parents said (in the now vernacular) it creeped them out. . . it would, of course, since they almost perished in a similar storm of 1938 at Dumpling Rock Lighthouse. I still see this picture in my mind and think of the keepers who knew they were going to die for sure (which they did) when the foundation shook. And, Arthur, a mutual friend wrote me and identified you. I should have known!!! Thanks for all the great comments. Bill, as always, your photographs and journalism are alive. Dollops — what a great adjective, so apt.

  4. Mary-Adair Macaire says:

    Nice entry, Bill. Loved it and the story about the Minot light.
    On the other side of the pond – there are some FAB lighthouses that seemed to rise defiantly above the sea off the coast of Brittany. No doubt many of them have equally romantic tales to tell …

    Best wishes.

  5. Pamela says:

    Great post. Gorgeous photos.

    As romantic as this island of Manhattan is (and yes, it is ridiculously romantic on so many levels), still — no snow.

  6. Tim Harrison says:

    When you think of it, Little River Lighthouse is the best place in the world for you to have sent greetings of love from to people around the world. Perhaps thouands were uplifted by your greetings and story from the lighthouse. How wonderful is that?!!

  7. Carole says:

    Tim – I think that Little River Lighthouse and it’s mission are already sending light out to people near and far. This will only continue to grow. So yes it is very, very wonderful. Lighthouses where and are Aids to Navagation but they are also say land is near by. The viewer(s) of seeing the lighthouse knows that they are not alone in this world.

  8. Arthur says:

    Perhaps it is the best place this lighthouse and little island but no less for the location, this unique little Maine coastal town and its people who have welcomed Bill and who have become and will forever be his special Maine family.

  9. linda louise ryan says:

    beautifully written.


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