“Jeez, have I been missing out on living because I’ve let my fear drive every single choice I’ve ever made?”~ Rebecca Raisin, Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop
“Jeez, have I been missing out on living because I’ve let my fear drive every single choice I’ve ever made?”~ Rebecca Raisin, Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop
This time of year when winter’s icy fingers hold us in its grasp and on top of it all, we are still oppressed by the ‘you know what’, I’m finding that my inspiration for writing is a tad absent of late.
No travel. No new sights to see. No fresh and exciting experiences to behold either.
I occupy a spot in front of our home computer and wait for a eureka moment to light up my waning motivation to no avail.
So, I gaze out our home office window and partake the colorless landscape. Still snow blanketing our yard just as it has for over a month now.
Until I can muster up something else to write about, today’s post about weather will have to suffice.
Spring will arrive eventually – even our own Punxsutawney Phil declared that although he advised we would have to wait – and the ‘you know what’ will subside – I have to believe that to be true.
In the meantime, we have weather. Wintry weather, yes. But honestly, I do appreciate living in an area of my country where we experience all kinds of weather in four very distinct seasons.
And my heart soars when the sun appears and casts its shining rays through brilliant blue sky and reflects in glimmering diamonds on the snow-laden ground.
Because you know what? Any kind of weather is good because it means we are alive and experiencing the change of seasons. A reason for thankfulness to the Creator of it all.
“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” ~ John Ruskin
It’s possible a Valentine greeting may come your way this week.
Even though Papa and I don’t really celebrate this holiday called Valentine’s Day, I do pull out a couple of simple decorations to add a bit of color to this drab winter month. By now, I start growing a tad weary of wintery and snowman decorations and am ready to relegate them back to their storage bin.
After purchasing Valentine greetings to send to our three grandchildren, I began thinking about how that tradition of sending cards began so I researched the subject. Because I have four vintage Valentines that are little treasures to me, I wondered when sending valentines became “a thing.”
Two of my vintage valentines appear to have been attached to the front of another card, which is missing, probably destroyed in some way. The other two are still intact and considering the ages of all four, they are surprisingly in good shape.
In the late 1700s, Valentine greetings were handwritten expressions of love and mysteriously signed, “Your Valentine.” But in Europe and the United States by the mid-19th century, especially around the year 1850, pre-made Valentine greetings began to be marketed and become quite popular.
From a couple of articles I read, the themes and styles of those cards were particular to a certain time frame or era. For example, valentine greetings from the early Victorian times of 1850-1880 included single-sided cards made from die-cut paper lace or fabric lace. Often pieces of ribbon or silk were fashioned on the cards or flowers and leaves made of silk or paper were used. Some greetings were hand-painted designs, and some had flaps on them that could be lifted.
From the 1880’s into 1900, Valentine greeting cards were mass produced and printed by means of color lithography. (Merriam-Webster definition: a method of printing from a flat surface (such as a smooth stone or a metal plate) that has been prepared so that the ink will only stick to the design that will be printed.)
Valentines made during this era included postcards, cards that opened, fan-shaped cards, and pop-up type of cards using honeycomb paper. Often those cards’ motifs were hearts, birds, flowers, and cherubs and valentines became more popular to purchase and send.
By the onset of the 20th century, more modern themed valentine cards were printed in different shapes and more detail. Some even depicted pictures of movie stars on them. Using word play with clever puns also became popular.
After perusing this information, I surmised that the four vintage cards I have are probably from the time frame of the late 1890’s, the early 1900’s, and 1920’s.
The first two cards pictured below are remnants from larger cards as each bears a glue mark on the backside. This one has a color lithograph of flowers and a woman’s hand upon which a dove is perched. That piece is cut out and glued onto a scalloped rectangular-shaped piece of punched cardboard. It bears this message: “Only happy hours.“
This next card remnant is a tiny pale pink paper envelope with a glossy, color lithograph of a man’s hand extending a spray of flowers and a painted scene declaring the words “To my friend” glued onto the scalloped flap of the envelope. The envelope itself is glued onto a scalloped rectangular embossed paper. And that piece must have been on the front of a larger card.
Valentine number three is a scalloped card that actually opens up. On the outside, a paper lace overlay covers the front of the card. A young child peeks out through a “window” in the lace and in addition to the “portrait,” the gold printed card has white hearts on it, pink roses, and in one corner colorful butterflies and in the opposing corner, more pink roses. The inside sentiment reads: “Oh this would be a happy day, If you would but be mine. And if you’d very kindly say, You’d be my Valentine.” On the back is printed Whitney Made Worcester Mass. Made in USA.
My last little treasure is a cut-out stand-up card with the greeting “With Love To My Valentine.” It is more intricate and detailed and again features a young child surrounded by hearts and flowers. On the fold-out bottom which acts as a stand for the card it reads “To my Sweetheart.” On the back, Made in Germany is printed.
I’m certain my little Valentine treasures aren’t worth much, but I like them and keep them encased in a sealed plastic baggie to protect them. If I were clever, I’d figure out a way to display them that wouldn’t harm them in any way, but I’m not that crafty. If you have any suggestions for me, please let me know in the comment section below.
And in the meantime, may your Valentine’s Day remind you that you are loved, whether you receive a greeting card or maybe even a little bit of chocolate or not.
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ~ Charles M. Schulz
I have a difficult time understanding it. Why some people hate snow, that is.
I hear folks complain in person or on social media about snowfalls; they grumble and gripe and they rush to the nearest store for bread, milk, and toilet paper (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?).
I understand that behavior if a blizzard of mammoth proportions is heading your way and you need to be prepared. Of course now, adding a threat of snow during this pandemic continuation, people rush to their phones, tablets, and laptops to order those items online.
But I wonder why people dislike snowy weather so much. Especially here in my neck of the woods – Penn’s Woods that is – otherwise known as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
My snarky side (and believe me, I do have one!) wants to remind them that for heaven’s sake, people, we live in this place located in the Northern Hemisphere of the earth, at roughly 40° latitude and 79° longitude where winter is distinctly one of the four seasons and descends upon us as surely as night falls on daylight due to the sun setting.
Winter in this clime equals cold temperatures and often snowfalls. Don’t like it? Move south. Hate snow? Find a different location and climate to live in. It’s not like snow flurries and frigid temperatures are an unusual occurrence in winter here.
“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.” ~ John Burroughs
Winter can be invigorating particularly when the outside temperature is brisk and crystalline flakes fall gently to the ground. When everything is covered in fluffy snow looking like marshmallows exploded, creating a beautiful scene, I wonder what’s not to like about a winter wonderland?
Writing those two words – winter wonderland – dials up my brain’s music box which immediately brings songs to mind with just a word or two. And although, Winter Wonderland is usually considered a Christmas song, I like to sing it to myself all winter long when snow drifts down from the sky.
That song was written way back in 1934 with music by Felix Bernard and the lyrics by Richard Smith. When Guy Lombardo released his rendition, it became one of the biggest hits of the year.
One version of the song, which I don’t hear very often, starts out with this lovely description of a winter wonderland:
Over the ground lies a mantle of white,
A heaven of diamonds shine down through the night;
Two hearts are thrilling, in spite of the chill in the weather.
Love knows no season, love knows no clime,
Romance can blossom any old time
Here in the open, we’re walking and hoping together.
Doesn’t that sound like a great song to sing, not just at Christmas, but all winter long, especially during the month of February when Valentine’s Day rolls around?
Any time a blanket of snow, shimmering like diamonds and decorating the trees with cottony fluff, envelops my world, it compels me to break into the rest of that song:
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?
In the lane, snow is glistening,
A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight,
Walking in a winter wonderland!
Over the years, Papa and I enjoyed walks in a winter wonderland, especially when we lived in parts of the country where snow was a rarity to some degree. And those walks always make my heart happy and my outlook in life positive. So, I do question why someone could hold such animosity over a snowfall.
Maybe snow-haters just don’t like the fact that snow makes one slow down and might even cause you to stay home. In this rat-race world where everyone wants instant gratification and is on the go constantly, we’ve forgotten how to slow our pace down. Take time to just pause, sit and watch the snow falling. Snow can force you to do that and perhaps that makes some folks bristle at the weather.
Of course, there are also people who are fearful of driving in snowy conditions. Safe driving in snow can be accomplished but again, it forces one to slow down, take time, allow extra minutes for the drive. You can’t drive like a bat out of you know where when it snows. Perhaps when snow falls, it causes some to be even more impatient than usual.
Or maybe folks are so cranky about snowfalls right now because we’re still suppressed by virus pandemic restrictions and mandates and they are just plain weary of being relegated to staying home, not getting out, etc. Of course, snowy weather can cause us to feel constrained as well.
But here’s food for thought. When Richard Smith, a fellow native Pennsylvanian, wrote the charming lyrics to Winter Wonderland, he was receiving treatment for tuberculosis in a Scranton, Pennsylvania sanitarium.
Inspiration for the song lyrics occurred while he was ill and isolated in a Honesdale (his hometown) hospital. When he peered outside his hospital window, he observed the town’s park covered in glistening snow – a winter wonderland. And inspiration soared.
Maybe we should take a hint from his experience.
He was quarantined, isolated, ill with a nasty bacterial sickness that also was a pandemic. He wasn’t free to travel, let alone go outside and still, he used his time to appreciate the snowy scene outside of his window and pass on his inspiration to countless people with the lyrics to a song that became a well-known classic.
“Close your eyes. Hear the silent snow. Listen to your soul speak.” ~ Adrienne Posey
Maybe it’s all about our attitude when it comes to the conditions of life we must face and endure – even wintry weather. Maybe we need snow to cause us to stop and listen to our hearts and souls, to make an attitude adjustment and partake of the magnificent beauty of God’s wondrous creation – snowfall.
For me, pandemic isolation or not, I will always enjoy walking (and witnessing) a winter wonderland. The serenity of a snowy walk proves calming, soothing, but invigorating all at the same time and I am so thankful that I’m able to do so and thankful for the God of the universe who gave us His creation.
“There’s just something beautiful about walking in snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special.” ~ Carol Rifka Brunt in Tell the Wolves I’m Home
This often-quoted line came to my mind yesterday morning: “From your mouth to God’s ears,” meaning may you be blessed with that for which you asked.
What prompted that thought? Dazzling, eye-squinting sunshine! It’s what I’ve longed for to gladden my mood and provide impetus to pull myself out of my January doldrums during this dismal month after days upon days of overcast, bleak skies.
Unlike a lot of folks, I really don’t mind winter weather unless it’s lacking sunshine and snow cover. Frigid weather, accompanied by brilliant sunshine and snowflakes, invigorates me and you might compare me to Elsa from the Disney animated film, Frozen, which I’ve watched more times with my grandchild than I care to count.
“The cold never bothered me anyway.” ~Elsa
I’m one of those strange souls who still uses ice cubes in my daily glasses of water even during the winter season. And iced tea remains a staple in our refrigerator throughout the cold months of the year. I recently liked finding an ice “sculpture” which had formed on a mug of iced tea when it somehow got pushed to the very back of our fridge overnight.
So yes, I like cold weather, cold drinks, and the sensation of being cold instead of overwhelmed by heat and humidity. All of that may be a leftover from my menopausal days of yore when I felt like I would spontaneously combust into flames most of the time.
One morning this week, we awakened to a blanket of white covering the landscape and even though skies were drab, our Little One (who had a day off school) was excited about playing in the snow. Especially fun was breaking out the snow stompers Papa and I had recently purchased for our grandchildren to enjoy at our house during a snowy season.
The stompers attached to snow boots create tracks that look like either a dinosaur or a monster (depending on what she fancies at the time) and our grandchild had fun making tracks on our sidewalk and in the snow, which brought much needed laughter and smiles on my account.
The next day, more snowfall made glistening by a beaming orb of light in an azure-colored sky greeted me when I opened the window blinds. Snow and sunshine. Makes me happy.
I just had to step out onto our front porch to capture the sun. Even though the air was chilly and snow covered the ground and shrubs, the sunshine warmed my face which in turn, warmed my heart. You know, “cold hands, warm heart.“
Winter days like that help me get through the January blues, which for me are grays.
“You can’t get too much winter in the winter.” ~ Robert Frost
A silly little sign reading, “Winter is for the birds,” hangs on one of our kitchen windows. I purposely placed it there because outside of that window, you can view our birdfeeder attached to our backyard deck.
So winter really is for the birds at our house. Usually, when someone uses this phrase, it means that winter is undesirable, and a lot of folks agree with that statement.
After all, the winter season, especially here in the northern and western hemisphere of the world, delivers cold temperatures, often frigid ones. Frost, ice, and snow along with wind chill factors are the norm, and it can become downright bleak outside.
Most of us think that before winter arrives, birds flock south from this northern clime where I live, but that’s not true for all bird species. Some actually hang around during the winter and don’t pack their bags for Florida like human “snowbirds” do.
Years ago, however, we didn’t see many birds in our yard during the winter season. Possibly, the fact that we owned a calico cat, who believed herself to be quite the hunter and stalker, prevented birds from visiting us.
Once we placed a bird feeder in a backyard tree, things changed somewhat. As we kept it filled with birdseed, we would catch glimpses of cardinals, blue jays, and a few smaller birds here and there, but not many.
Those hoggish black crows tried their darnedest to join the feast also but were too large to get their beaks into the feeder, thank goodness.
A few years later, our beloved Callie went to kitty heaven, and then we purchased a suet cake holder for a front yard tree and a second birdfeeder that could attach to our deck railing. We positioned it so we could view our fine-feathered friends from the windows by our kitchen table.
And fine-feathered friends began arriving in droves or I should say flocks, especially during the winter season.
Not only do we enjoy visits from several Mr. Reds, those bright red, male northern cardinals, but also from their mates, females of muted brown with small slashes of red. They stand out so brilliantly against a snowy scene.
But we’ve also spied several different bird species, common to our area of the state, but not really noticed by us before we started tempting them into our yard with a smorgasbord of seeds.
So far, in addition to the flashy cardinals, these lovely birds are partakers of our free eats: tufted titmouse, white-breasted nuthatch, black-capped chickadee, white-throated sparrow, house finch, song sparrow, American goldfinch, cat bird, and black-eyed junko. But I haven’t managed yet to get photos of all of them.
Blue jays still try to chase the other birds off and perch unsuccessfully on the feeder to grab some tasty morsels, but they soon give up and fly away because they are just a mite too big to sit there comfortably munching away. Larger birds like mourning doves have also gravitated to our outdoor dining area but gather on the ground below the feeder to gobble up seeds that fall.
Often, it looks like a bird convention at that feeder, but when I try to move close enough to the window to capture a photo, they get spooked and fly off. Still, during these cold winter days when we’re socked into our home, not so much because of weather conditions as the continuing pandemic restrictions, birdwatching provides enjoyment for us.
That’s not the only reason we keep refilling the feeder though. As we supply a little nourishment for the birds, we also provide them a little shelter from the snow.
Watching our little visitors supplies a feeling of serenity and a bit of peace for us. Those moments cause us to be still and silent as we watch at the window, so we don’t frighten our fine feathered friends away.
Is winter really for the birds? Definitely, at least at our house.
“Feeding the birds is also a form of prayer.” ~ Pope Pius XII
Fast away the old year passes…for many it hasn’t gone by fast enough and we’re hopeful it takes its hardships and upheavals with it. We better not hold our breath waiting for that to take place, but we can’t surrender to gloom and despair either. Instead we pray for the strength to endure.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses…at 12:01 we greet 2021, a brand new year, but we wonder with trepidation what it will bring. We must trust in God to provide and to always help us persevere, no matter what transpires.
On the cusp of a new year dawning, on this last day of 2020, I revisit this past year with all of its ups and downs. And I remind myself to be thankful, to express gratitude to my God, who holds this world and all within it in the palm of His strong, capable, and mighty hands.
Sing we joyous all together…for so many of my fellow human beings, it’s been difficult to find reasons to be joyful this past year. But we can find joy when we look for it. Often, photos say more than words, so please join me below in a slideshow as I revisit this old, tired year 2020 with joy and gratitude as it fades into my memory bank and I feel at peace. I encourage you to remember the instances that gave you joy this year.
Heedless of the wind and weather…we will get through this difficult time with God’s help regardless if the winds of change come and the ‘weather’ turns foul.
May 2021 bring us all reasons to rejoice, no matter what.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie
As I prepare to celebrate this holy season of Christmas, I reflect on the many gifts I’ve been given. Included in that long list of blessings are you, my readers. Thank you for spending time with me as you read my blog posts.
My wish for you is simple. May you be blessed as much as you have blessed me with your comments, your likes, and simply just reading my words.
I wish you all joy, peace, hope, and most of all, love. It’s what we all need right now.
“Best of all, Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and the love of our fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God.” ~ George F. McDougall
All good things must come to an end. But who says so?
That often used proverb usually means nothing lasts forever. In other words, enjoy the here and now. Find your happiness today because it may not exist tomorrow. What makes you happy now is only temporary. Perhaps that is so, if you listen to all the doom sayers.
Just as my Tuesday Tour series on lighthouses Papa and I have visited came to a conclusion last week, it’s not a closure with finality. I’m hopeful my posts provided a nice distraction from all that’s taken place in our world in the last several months. I know ‘revisiting’ all of those beautiful spots provided a source of happiness for me.
Hopefully, Papa and I will once more hit the road on our empty nest travels and when we do, we will enjoy good things like lighthouses again. In the meantime, we still continue our day trips here and there within driving range of our country home.
This past fall as we drove northward to catch sight of some fall foliage, we found a spot, just by happenstance, we’ve never seen before or even heard of – Peace Park on Lighthouse Island, a privately owned 20+ acre island located along the Allegheny River in Tionesta, Pennsylvania.
My mind couldn’t believe what my eyes beheld as I spied this little hidden gem while we were driving along. A lighthouse! An inland lighthouse, which isn’t a navigational aid to water vessels, located approximately 60 miles away from the only real shoreline Pennsylvania has along Lake Erie? Come again?
Of course, we had to find our way there so I could stop to snap a photo. And when we located the Sherman Memorial Lighthouse, an illuminated 55-foot tall lighthouse 16 feet in diameter, we also were pleasantly surprised to find it situated on a lovely park named Peace Park.
Sherman Memorial Lighthouse was erected as a family memorial by a local Tionesta resident, Jack Sherman. The tower was completed in 2004 and 76 stairs inside it join seven floors. On each floor, Mr. Sherman displays items pertaining to his family’s heritage and his collection of lighthouse art and miniatures.
Even though the park is privately owned, it is open to the public but to tour the lighthouse’s interior, you must either arrange for a private group tour appointment (donation asked) or visit when it is open to the public a few times a year during the local Lions Club fundraisers.
When we visited the lighthouse was closed, but we could still stroll the park grounds which has a one-mile walking trail. Other attractions located in the park are a Freedom Cross, representative of the Cross of Lorraine, a two-barred cross with a vertical line crossed by two shorter horizontal bars; a Statue of Liberty replica; a Veteran’s Memorial honoring those who served our country in all branches of the armed forces; and a small chapel, which is provided for visitors to spend time in prayer and reflection.
As we entered Peace Park, naturally my eyes were on the lighthouse, but after arriving, we noticed a blue welcome sign. A dove with an olive branch, Prince of Peace and Angel of Love statues, and two angels of hope and joy are featured on the sign. Perfect thoughts for entering not only the park but this Christmas season as well.
As we departed, the other side of the sign proclaimed let there be peace on earth.
We all wish for peace on earth, don’t we? Especially when this holiday arrives. But on a night over 2000 years ago, peace DID come to earth. His name is Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
“No God, no peace; know God, know peace.” ~ Croft M. Pentz
And by knowing Him, really KNOWING Him, not just knowing of Him in your mind, but knowing Him in your heart, you can call Him your Savior, your Friend, your Peace on Earth.
That more people would come to truly know Jesus – that’s my peace on earth Christmas wish this year.
“Christ alone can bring lasting peace – peace with God – peace among men and nations – and peace within our hearts.” ~ Billy Graham
Some folks say the end is the best part of any story. The Tuesday Tour of lighthouses is complete for now, at least until Papa and I can embark once again on our empty nest travels. As I’ve promised in earlier posts, I believe I have saved the best for last in this series.
When you view the photo below, you may think I’m off my rocker. But hang on, this one is just the sidekick of a more spectacular one. I almost missed catching a glimpse of Ram Island Ledge Light, an unobtrusive and almost forlorn looking tower, located about a mile offshore from a more famous lighthouse on the coast of Maine.
This particular navigation aid was erected first as an iron spindle in 1855 to mark dangerous ledges near the entrance of the Portland harbor, and later became a 50-foot wooden tripod.
Shipwrecks abounded in the area for many years and when a large transatlantic steamer ran aground during a snowstorm in 1900, the necessity of a lighthouse there became most apparent. Construction began on Ram Island in 1903 and completed the next year, but the 90-foot tall tower was first illuminated in January 1905 with a fog bell added later that year. Keepers lived inside the tower for two weeks at a time working 12-hour shifts daily and then were granted one week shore leave.
By 1959, keepers no longer were required since the light became automated and on 2001, it was converted to solar power. Eventually, this light tower was placed on the auction block and a private owner purchased it simply because he wanted to preserve this historic place.
Ram Island Ledge Light might be lone and forgotten possibly because it’s almost hidden in the shadows of a famous lighthouse, actually New England’s most visited, photographed, and painted landmark – Portland Head Lighthouse.
Situated in Cape Elizabeth, Maine on the dramatic coastline, Portland Head is rich in history since it is Maine’s oldest lighthouse dating back to 1791 and is noted as the first lighthouse completed by the U.S. government. When we visited in early summer 2017, it didn’t take long to realize this is a popular sightseeing destination.
Cape Elizabeth’s history can be traced back to Revolutionary War times when, in 1776, the newly established town posted soldiers at Portland Head in order to warn of British attacks and protect the harbor. By 1787, partial funding was provided to build a lighthouse there and three years later, the U.S. Congress added enough funds to complete the construction of a 72-foot tower and a small keeper’s dwelling. President George Washington requested that local rubble stone be used to build the lighthouse itself.
Illuminated by 16 whale oil lamps, Portland Head was first lit on January 10, 1791 after its dedication by none other than Marquis de Lafayette. A Revolutionary War veteran, appointed by President Washington, became the first lighthouse keeper there. His salary? The right to live in the keeper’s dwelling, fish, and farm in the area. Finally, after two difficult years, the keeper received $160 per year.
Winter was perilous at Portland Head especially when the trek from the keeper’s dwelling to the lighthouse was steep, rocky, and frozen when ocean waves washed over it. By 1816, a new two-story keeper’s quarters was built and part of the former structure was joined to the tower.
During the Civil War era, the tower was elevated another 20 feet after a 295-foot ship wrecked taking 40 lives into the sea with it. Later, on Christmas Eve in 1886, yet another sea vessel crashed at Portland Head. When the lighthouse keepers heard the impact, they formed a gangway with a ladder set between the rocky ledge and the shore and rescued all 14 people on board.
The peculiar aspect of that shipwreck was that visibility was good that night and the ship’s crew stated they saw the Portland Light clearly. So what caused the ship to strike a ledge and be lodged against it?
Yet more unusual occurrences happened at this famous lighthouse. As the wife of one keeper sat knitting in a chair next to a window one evening, their dog began growling so ferociously, she got up and moved to another area. Immediately afterwards, an enormous wave crashed into the keeper’s dwelling, breaking the window and blowing glass shards over the chair where she had sat.
Visitors to the lighthouse roamed freely about sometimes startling the keepers and their families. In the 1950’s, a woman entered the house, sat at the kitchen table, and declared that the keeper and his wife serve her since they were government employees.
And in the 1960’s, keepers’ families learned that downstairs doors and windows should be locked at all times after tourists with cameras barged into the bathroom in the keepers’ home and caught a coastguardsman’s wife in the tub.
After the lighthouse was automated, an apartment in the keeper’s dwelling was rented and several occupants over the years reported a feeling that they weren’t alone there. One couple said a motion-detector alarm often went off when no one was there at night. Other residents thought there was a spectral presence in the basement but felt it was a friendly ghost who “just needed to be told that his keeper days were over and he could rest in peace.”
One keeper named Joshua Strout is noted as Maine’s oldest keeper. At 79 years old, he retired in 1904 after being Portland Head’s light keeper for 35 years and had served 17 of those years without any time off. Strout’s son Joseph became head keeper serving until 1928. His career at the light station was over 50 years.
Another interesting story about Portland Head Light is that a very famous poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, became a frequent visitor there. It’s highly suspected that he was inspired by this lighthouse to pen his poem entitled The Lighthouse.
Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same,
Year after year, through all the silent night,
Burns on forevermore that quenchless flame,
Shines on that inextinguishable light!
– excerpt from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Lighthouse
That inextinguishable light actually was extinguished though from June 1942 to June 1945 in order to prevent aid to German submarines. During World War II, unauthorized visitors were also forbidden there.
During its long service, Portland Head Light was first the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Treasury from 1790-1852 when the U.S. Lighthouse Board took over management. By 1939, the U.S. Coast Guard became responsible for navigational aids including Portland Head. In 1989, the lighthouse was decommissioned and the town of Cape Elizabeth now owns and manages it with the U.S. Coast Guard still controlling the light and fog signal.
We first viewed Portland Head from adjacent Fort Williams Park, where visitors can utilize picnic areas, go hiking, engage in sports and recreational activities, and enjoy beautiful ocean viewpoints from its 90+ acres. When visiting the lighthouse itself, the public also can tour an award-winning museum in the former lighthouse keeper’s quarters as well as a gift shop.
In my estimation, Portland Head Light is one of the most beautiful lighthouses we’ve viewed thus far. I fell head over heels for this lighthouse (although not literally because that would have been a disastrous fall!) and took more photos of it than any other. I just couldn’t stop taking pictures, as you can tell from this post, and I thought every picture this amateur photographer captured looked amazing.
“Once the lighthouse is seen, the rest of the sea is ignored.” ~ Terri Guillemets