I have been thinking of lighthouses, as I am very fond of them. I came across new information about some local ones, and even found a web site (courtesy of some lighthouse articles) which is excellent for all of North America. https://www.lighthousefriends.com/index.html
So, I will share a lighthouse story which is part of one of my novels. It is a fictitious lighthouse, but the story has roots (as so many tales do) in reality.
Excerpt from: He Lives In The City / He Drives To The Country
“Well, Blaine, the place is as sturdy as the rock it’s on. Government inspected every spring. We even sat pretty through the Great Groundhog Day Gale in 1976, the worst storm in over a hundred years.”
Fred Gannet nudged Blaine to the huge windows. He pointed into the distance, although neither could see through the fog.
“Waves forty feet smashed up against us. We clocked winds at one hundred and thirty-seven miles an hour. We had the warning, so we got most of this battened down. Turned over my van, but I had it far from the cliff. Smashed out a window in the living room. I had a bitch of a time getting plywood over it. Lost power and phone of course, but everything here can run on emergency generator. And part of the roof lifted, but it didn’t do that much damage.” He jabbed his finger at the rain spattered windows. “This is a baby compared to that whore.”
He gave a whoop of a laugh, and took off his cap.
“Old George Crenshaw, he’s the keep on Goat Island, a mile square drop of nothing about eight miles further out to sea. Well, he took the brunt of that bitch, and we were all sure he was a goner. For hours after it passed, there was no boats could get through the waves, or helicopters through the wind. Even the radios were gone, and no one had talked to the old bugger for twelve hours.
“We kept trying and trying, and finally I heard his call letters, but real faint like. I turn my juice ’til the needle’s in the red, and I’m yelling, to find out how he is. You know the first thing any of us hear that old son of a bitch say?”
The large man’s body was actually shaking with laughter, something Blaine had rarely seen in anyone.
“Old George’s thin voice comes out of the radio, like a fart out of a ghost, and he says: `Well, boys, that was quite a breeze’.”
Blaine started to laugh as hard as the other man, who was now wiping his eyes with the cap he had in his hands.
“His place was a wreck. He had no heat, no power, there was three feet of water in his bedroom, and they even found a crack at the base of the tower. That crazy old guy had hand-cranked the generator on and off for ten hours to keep some light going. Jeez, Blaine, they don’t make them like that anymore.”
So, I pay attention to the other animals.
During a walk in the neighbourhood, a right old rumpus erupted in a parking lot to my left. A man was having a frantic time keeping his dog in check. The dog was on a leash, and actually pulling the man. They were in the middle of the empty parking lot, and I could see nothing to make the dog so agitated. The dog was straining mightily, but it was obvious that, if he broke free, he was not coming for me. He was wishing to get free to dash into an adjoining back yard. I carefully went on my way.
About five minutes later I turned onto another street. Now, I fully understand that the phrase “Can not believe my eyes” is not literal. We say it when we see something extraordinary. However, that was the phrase that immediately came to mind, even as I was seeing what I was seeing.
Part way along the street, an albino deer was standing in the middle of the road. There was not a patch of colour on the animal other than white. Head, body, legs. Looking right at me. Calmly. It stood stock still. Not a twitch.
Well, I did the same. Not a movement. It was about three houses along the street. Blessedly there was no traffic. No walkers. And I at least now knew why the dog had been so agitated. Perhaps it could not trust its senses, either.
The albino deer didn’t move. After three or four minutes, I wondered if it was ill. Somehow stunned. Dealing with some sort of trauma. Regardless, I knew it was not safe for the albino deer to keep standing in the middle of a street. I started to – very slowly – walk toward it.
And it didn’t move.
I went closer and it still didn’t move. I wondered if deer could be rabid. Was its mind gone? Was I in danger? I was not going to confront a hefty deer. I stopped.
About a couple of minutes after I stopped, two fawns came trotting between two houses. Seemingly not a care in the world. They were of a normal deer colour. The albino deer turned and started to trot toward a swath of bushes and trees on the other side of the road. The fawns quickly followed. Exit three deer, as if responding to stage directions.
Those other animals, eh?
The surface of the lake is so smooth, the flow of the differing currents are clearly seen as shimmering streaks reflecting the sunshine.
Breaking through these jewelled bands, like shadows over unrecognized borders, are three loons. Two black-capped Common and one red-throated. They stray apart, become lost in shafts of sparkling water, and as unexpectedly re-appear further along the shore.
The red-throated loon keeps a slight distance from the other two. Usually, it is the first to dive. Dive and disappear so cleanly there is only the barest ripple to betray it.
The other two then quickly go without a sound, a liquid dive that leaves the water empty, save for the dancing sunshine.
And then a head.
And then two more bodies break the surface, far from where they went under. They move with an ease that makes them seem part of the water.
One of them wallows slightly on its side, then reaches far down its breast to preen. After a few nibbles, it rights itself and unhurriedly joins its companions.
They become a distant trio of sleek shapes, and disappear in the haze of horizon and glinting sun.
One Christmas season over a decade ago, I looked after a dog whilst her owners went out of town.
Tibbit is a big, friendly dawg who likes inspecting piles of leaves. She has a long lead which her benevolent human allows to go as far as possible. She knows (better than her accompanying human) that there are treats at the end of each walk.
One Saturday I didn’t get Tibbit out until after dark. We skirted the university (where her masters work) and went up a street bordering the campus. We both liked the Christmas lights. Near the top of the street we met an inebriated gentleman, warning us of a bear in the surrounding woods.
“Flush him out,” said he, pointing at the dog, “And I’ll get my 3 aught 3.”
“Get the rifle first,” I replied.
We then went our respective ways.
Tibbit and I doubted the veracity of the gentleman, so when we came to a trail through the woods, we took it. I will admit I did peer more intently into the gloom than usual. One trail led to a larger trail, which led back to the university. We advanced without incident.
On Sunday, I again walked Tibbit toward the university, though from a different direction. It was a crisp, clear day, and she gamboled (as much as the leash allowed ) through the new fallen snow. Sunshine gleamed. This time we were on the other side of the campus, but our walk eventually led to a position about half a mile away from where we were the previous evening.
We followed another trail into the woods, and admired the sun through the fir trees. The path was wide and sloped. It came to a turn some distance away, that led us even closer to where we were the day before. At the top of the slope, Tibbit stopped dead in her tracks.
She stared and stared.
She glanced briefly into the woods, but mainly kept staring along the trail.
I saw nothing nor heard anything (and I was intent upon both).
Tibbit did not move and made not a sound. She just kept staring. After a solid two minutes of this, I started to backtrack.
She made no complaint.
You betcha she got her dog treats.
We know that Canada Day is really Dominion Day.
But – that said – there is still no better symbol for Canada than the industrious beaver. But even hard-working beavers hard-working beavers need their time at play. This is what I saw.
I was walking along the river and heard the strangest noise.
It was one of those noises which, when I found out what It was, sounded exactly as it should. A beaver was chewing at a branch on the bank of the river.
First there were small rolling noises, as the branch went through its hands.
Then the ‘gnaw gnaw gnaw’.
And then the turning noise and the cycles were repeated.
This went on fifteen minutes or so, until the beaver and I both heard noises in the river.We both saw another beaver approaching.
The beaver-at-gnaw quickly went in her direction (though I can only guess which sex was which). They swam toward each other, then rubbed faces. The approaching beaver made small bawling noises like a young calf. They rubbed bodies and sniffed each other. They then swam in different directions.
This performance – the swimming away, the languid circling, the approaches – went on for twenty minutes. A couple of times the ‘gnawing’ beaver clambered over the over beaver’s back, but this lasted just a few seconds. The beaver that had first approached rubbed noses once again, then made the bawling sounds one more time.
I never appreciated how large beavers are until one of them came up on the bank. The water was clear enough to see their feet and tail move underwater (I wonder if the portion out of the water might have the 1/10 proportion of an iceberg). The sun was setting and they became difficult to see.
However they decided to part anyway. One began to go down river toward the harbour and one headed to the other shore.
Perhaps they had just had a date. Perhaps they had just arranged for a date. Whatever the case, I had the distinct impression they were more than friends.
The blue jay has been there twenty-five minutes. I thought it might have gone to sleep, but it just shifted, and then pecked at some tree needles. I doubt I have ever seen a sleeping bird.
Two crows just flew over, making their crow sounds. Woke up the blue jay, who paid attention. But then, as far as I can tell, the blue jay went back to sleep.
A window is a quarter open, a fan is on, and I’m watching NCIS (with the sound lower than usual). Yet the blue jay seems to sleep on. I might not be able to see it when it becomes totally dark.
Well, it is now too dark to see the blue jay asleep on the branch – just the barest silhouette. I’m guessing the blue jay will be gone before I awake. But I’ll look.
After a nine hour trip yesterday, I had aimed for, planned for, hoped for, to wake up as I pleased this morning. However, the crows had different ideas, and not too long after sunrise I was drawn unceremoniously into the new day. To my surprise – considering all the noise – there were only half a dozen roosting and hopping on The Crow Tree. Perhaps their promised gold was the golden rays of the sun.
At any rate, I re-post this Crow blog from a couple of years ago. I bet many of the crows are the same crows. Who has murdered sleep, indeed.
Crows leave The Crow Tree in droves, circle and return. They are clustered on the top branches with constant noise. More arrive.
Stark contrast on The Crow Tree. A ridge of black crows on top of the red and orange leaves against the blue sky. They keep circling.
The crow discourse on The Crow Tree seems to be over. Most have moved on and the few remaining are silent. I wonder what they decided.
At The Crow Tree, the rest is silence.
An hour ago my walk took me to a small park/garden across from a church. There are three benches, and I sit there often. Part way through my contemplations, a crow settled into the birdbath. A large crow and a birdbath that would not comfortably accommodate two crows. There had been a big rainstorm the day before and the birdbath was full.
At first I thought the crow was just drinking from the water. But, within a couple of minutes, he was splashing and cavorting and dousing himself in water from his active dance. Head to tip of tail and all feathers in between. A right good soaking.
Then, with a great shake and some flying sprays of water, he flew away.