What is it about lighthouses that so captures our imaginations? I have loved them since I was a kid, and I grew up in Arizona. The first lighthouse I saw in person was at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina when I was seven, and I already loved them. That was because my sisters and I had seen Shirley Temple’s “Captain January,” and I imagined tap-dancing my way up and down a winding, lighthouse staircase, if I ever got the chance.
Then I started reading Emilie Loring’s books and fell in love with the idea of motoring to my own, private lighthouse, like Melissa Barclay in Give Me One Summer. By the time I saw my next lighthouse, Point Loma in San Diego, I was sixteen and filled with romantic notions. A sixteen-year-old girl’s heart and a lighthouse are made for each other. I fell hard.
There followed lighthouses on the Door County Peninsula in Wisconsin and on Diamond Head in Hawaii, but I knew I had to make it to New England some day and see exactly what Emilie was talking about. On my first trip to Boston, I signed up for a coastal lighthouse tour–a whole day of viewing lighthouses up close, from the water!
That was the day I remembered what lighthouses are for–to light the mariner’s way in fog, night, and storm. We got fog. Our guide pointed out the lights, and I could tell the beacons were sweeping from side to side by the low-high-low of the distant beams. If I’d been making my way toward shore in a small craft, I’m sure I would have felt reassured by their guidance. Instead, I shivered in the gray cold and wondered what the equivalent of a “rain check” might be for a lighthouse tour. (Answer: none)
At my desk in Kansas, I look up to see Quoddy Light on my August calendar. Nearby are a ceramic model of the Boston Light that my son painted for me and a fancy teacup and saucer that I keep to evoke an Emilie Loring mood when I write. The connection is natural.
Lighthouses capture what I mean when I think of Emilie Loring as a “romance” writer. Hers was the romance of adventure and mystery, an exciting sense of something extraordinary, an elevation of thought and purpose. If you thrill a little when you stand near a lighthouse, you know the feeling.
I’m writing this post on National Lighthouse Day. School days are coming, and summer thoughts will soon give way to fall. If you’re near a lighthouse, take advantage of the lowering rays of the sun and go out for a stroll or a picnic. If you’re far away, like I am, enjoy these lighthouse photos and let imagination take you traveling. Romance is moments away.