Monday, 13 October 2003
Pix Of The Day: Fickle Finger Of Fate Lighthouse
CREDITS: © Rudy & Alice Rico/RudyAliceLighthouse.net
MAP: Monterey, California. Thumbnails pops-up source page with larger image.
Ian Scott-Parker writes: Saturday's big wedding went off without a hitch: in the dying rays of the sun, on a perfect Fall evening in southern Utah, Robin & Donna made their vows to each other before the assembled guests. Immediately the ceremony was completed, the sun slid gracefully below the horizon of a nearby hill. Robin is a former theatrical director, so although the dramatic thespian timing was happenstance, it was never the less wholly apposite.
I was helping to serve the buffet, and hearing my accent ("tomato" is a dead give away around here), the lady I was serving said, "I know you! What's your name?" It transpired that she was the duty nurse one night shift in May of this year: that was the same night that I was the patient who went into convulsions, accompanied by loud bellowing and violent bed rocking, which triggered the alarms that brought a posse of nurses and doctors rushing into the side room. "You scared me half to death," she said accusingly, "Don't you ever do that again!" I apologized profusely, thanked her for her care in my hour of need, and gave her an additional serving of cauliflower.
Another guest, a regular reader of this web site, was admiring a bird house in the form of a lighthouse. "Why don't you do a piece on lighthouses?" she asked. This was another coincidence, because earlier in the day I had filed away a web reference, thinking that perhaps my own interest in lighthouses might not be shared by many readers. Imagine my surprise when all those present agreed that lighthouses were fascinating places worthy of more frequent coverage on this web site. I tried hard to remember if we had ever covered lighthouses at all: imagine my further surprise when I discovered that in today's 'On This Day In 2002' feature the Fickle Finger Of Fate on the Long Arm Of Coincidence points at Godrevy Lighthouse in Cornwall!
The piece I had filed away was not just about any old lighthouse, rather it detailed the longest continuously operating lighthouse on the west coast of the USA. Although historically the third lighthouse to be built, the earlier two fail on the continuous operation criterion. The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History has a short history of the Point Piños Lighthouse, which was visited in 1879 by RL Stevenson, the author of 'Treasure Island' and something of an expert of lighthouses.
The first keeper, Charles Layton, was killed in 1856 while serving as a member of the sheriff's posse chasing the notorious outlaw Anastasio Garcia. The keeper's widow, Charlotte, succeeded him and remained head keeper until 1860, when she married her assistant keeper, George Harris. The most famous keeper was Mrs. Emily Fish, who served from 1893 to 1914. She was called the 'Socialite Keeper' because she frequently entertained guests at the lighthouse.
Rudy & Alice Rico have a fascinating web site with a comprehensive Point Piños page. There are several varied pictures of the exterior of the lighthouse, plus several interior shots, all accompanied by an excellent historical text. The site has sections for lighthouses nationwide: in other parts of California; Lake Ontario; Lake Erie; and Cape Cod. Each lighthouse visited has a neat selection of pictures with accompanying text. The PBS Legendary Lighthouses site is another rich resource, though neither of the two series of TV programs is currently scheduled to be broadcast. These sites are treasure troves for lighthouse lovers, and show the web at its very best.
On This Day In 2002: Cornwall's Hospitable Shores - Sun, 13 Oct 2002
CREDITS: © Charles Winpenny/CornwallCAM.co.uk
MAPS:  Region  District  Location
After yesterday's visit to the wild coast of Greenland, we return to the usually more hospitable shores of Cornwall, the final English county on the southwest peninsula. This fine seascape by Charles Winpenny shows St. Ives Bay in a color palette that I am sure would have pleased Claude Gellée.
The town of St. Ives is a notable artists' colony, as well as being a tourist venue, and the place where wave surfing first reached the UK. However, the picture does not show the storm clouds, wind swept beaches, or pounding seas that sometimes appear in Charles' always excellent record of Cornwall in all its moods from day to day.
Despite the evidence of the gentle Small Tortoiseshell butterfly picture from Charle's update for today, the maritime record of this coast has a long list of wrecks from storms, and tradition has it that the locals shone lights out to sea to lure innocent ships onto the rocks for the booty that might be recovered afterwards by the 'wreckers'.
Many of these folklore traditions are doubtless tall tales: we enjoyed the one about attaching a lantern to a donkey's tail for it to be swung to a fro as a lure for shipping!
The local Godrevy Lighthouse was built between January 1858 and March 1859, following the wreck of a passenger steamer named 'The Nile'. The vessel had foundered with the loss of all hands in December 1854 on 'The Stones' reef, which extends one and a half miles offshore. The sea still produces a local bounty from flotsam and jetsam: in modern times valuable timber has been recovered, but there are laws governing how this can be done, and the facts must be reported to the 'Office Of Receiver Of Wrecks' in the port of Southampton. There is a shipwreck museum in Charlestown, which has many historical artifacts collected over the years.
The Crown owns beached whales, though what to do with the Wales has perplexed many a ruling monarch, right down the centuries to the present day.
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)