This day, though, would be a lucky one.
from The Lighthouse Family: The Whale
by Cynthia Rylant
illustrated by Preston McDaniels
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2003
I have found my way to many high places. When I was little my parents took my brother and my sister and me to the top of the Terminal Tower in downtown Cleveland. In the late 1950s, it was the tallest building in North America outside of New York City. We rode up to the 52nd floor and looked down to the street 708 feet below. My mom said the people looked like ants. I just thought they looked like very tiny people dodging their way around very tiny cars and busses.
Several years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty. Liberty’s torch is not open to the public anymore, but I climbed to the crown, as high as I was allowed. At the top of the pedestal the staircase began a double-helix spiral assent. I climbed and climbed all 377 steps and looked out each window over the Hudson River. Gorgeous.
A couple of years ago, we rode in a little pod inside the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. When we got to the top and looked out, we could see 35 miles away. The arch itself is a marvel of engineering and technology. It is breathtaking from the ground and from the viewing platform inside.
I’ve climbed to the top of several lighthouses. The views are magnificent, crashing waves, breakers made of stone on stone. But lighthouses are different. Lighthouses are not about the view. Lighthouses are about guiding sailors safely into port, helping them find their way home.
Sleep away camp when I was twelve, found me pretty homesick. I had grown out of the Kindergarten crying stage by then, but still missed the familiarity of home. I missed being able to ride my bike whenever I wanted (pretty much). I missed watching TV at night with my family. I missed my friends. Birds sang different songs, the water tasted different, the cots were saggy.
On the ride home my neighborhood finally came into view, my street, then my house, I felt like I could finally let go of the breath I had been holding for two weeks. I know why sailors kiss the ground when they return home.
This must be the feeling evoked by a familiar lighthouse.
According to the Associated Press http://www.fbhi.org/boston-light-300th-anniversary.html a big anniversary bash is scheduled for Sept. 14, (tomorrow) the date when the Boston Light — the Coast Guard's last manned lighthouse — was originally lit in 1716.
Hardly anything in this country is 300 years old. That’s a long time to be calling people home.