I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t remember that it was the Memorial Day weekend. I hopped into my car and headed out to Popham Beach, one of our few sandy beaches in the area, as opposed to rocks and cliffs. My intent was to wander along the lonely shores and search for sand dollars and other ocean treasures, as I usually do when I go to Popham. Then, when I could take no more wind, I would head home with my bag of riches. It seemed like a great plan.
But when I got to Popham Beach, I was taken aback by the number of people there, easily numbering 100 or more. The temperature was only in the 50s, as opposed to almost 70 further inland, but the people! Oh, the people! The parking lot had cars with “foreign” plates on them. Little tents were set up to block the driving wind. People were wrapped in thick down blankets. But they were there. My beach was no longer “my” beach, which is why I really love January.
|The Seguin Island Lighthouse.|
I was about to leave when I looked out to sea and saw the Seguin Island Lighthouse. I could barely make it out, but I focused the zoom lens on my camera as best as I could, and I snapped this photo. There’s no sandy beach on that island, but it sure does look peaceful. That was the whole goal of the day: peace.
The Seguin Island Lighthouse is the highest lighthouse on the Maine coast and was first built it 1795 with improvements thereafter. It is the second oldest lighthouse in Maine and was authorized by President George Washington. It was lit with whale oil, as they all were back then. The oil was supposed to be stored in a large cellar, according to the plans, but how can you have a cellar and a deep foundation in rock like that? Like many of the old lighthouses, a little oil house was built.
The first light keeper was Major John Polerecsky, who manned the house from 1796 to 1804. He arrived months before the light was first lit so that he could make preparations for farming and gardening on the island. Back then, light keepers lead lonely and isolated lives, often seeing no one else for months on end, and there weren’t any supermarkets available. He did not start getting a paycheck, though, until the light was shining, which was some time after his arrival and preparations. Talk about tough employers.
I’m not sure what the Major would have thought had he been able to see the many people on Popham Beach today. He might have wondered at their odd behavior of lying around in blankets and not doing much of anything. He might have wondered why they weren’t tending their newly planted gardens or shearing their sheep or any other number of countless tasks that must be done by backwoods country folk. Chances are, though, that he would have thought the same thing I did: too many people!