lighthouse series – #1
over the past few months, i’ve been studying lighthouses. a gift, a book on the history of lighthouses ignited my renewed interest. the power of the symbolism is universal over the span of time and culture, and though many ancient lighthouses have been lost, there are hundreds – thousands - still standing. holding hundreds of years of history, and the stories of those who have created them, lived in and cared for them – magnetizing and capturing our dreams as they have for thousands of years.
the metaphors are powerful – a fire-tower, marking of danger. a beam of light shining through dark, stormy seas, dense fog, crashing waves and ripping winds. standing tall, unwavering and courageous, struck from the edge of the earth. life saving, light-giving beacons to the windswept wave-battered vessels lost at sea. the images are stunning, and it is seemingly impossible that these structures can stand and shine in the midst of the wild forces of destruction that surround them.
and those keepers live there, too.
this image is captivating at first glance, and more so in reading the story of the rescue of the lighthouse keeper. with the speed of the oncoming wave and the keeper standing at the open door, it is amazing to hear of his survival. maybe the most powerful metaphor of all – the symbol of life in the face of death, of our smallness, and strength, against the awesome forces of nature.
the deeper i look, the more there is to learn — i’ve collected at least a dozen books, from construction details, lighthouse maps from europe, the mediterranean, and the pacific coast, historical references, light technology (the fresnel lenses alone are a lifetime’s study), and the stories of the keepers and the events – tragic and transformational.
this beautiful tapered cast iron lightouse constructed in 1865 is endangered, and nearing collapse. the range and beauty in the design of lighthouse structures all over the world is captivating – it would be more than a lifetime’s journey to go there.
in exploring them – their landscape, design, siting, and climbing up to the light – i’ve started the journey, beginning with the one nearest to home – the point robinson lighthouse on alki point in seattle (closed for the winter), then west point lighthouse at discovery park at the edge of the magnolia bluffs (shrink wrapped for restoration), and then the kilauea lighthouse on kauai (tower closed).
now on to more journeys and for going deeper, and climbing higher, to the towers and lanterns. now for storm-swept, or fogged in, or darkest night forays when the light – the heartbeat of the lighthouse – is shining bright.