Light Years: Memoir of a Modern Lighthouse Keeper
by Caroline Woodward
The very true story of a writer who always chose adventure over security, love over logic, and who (naturally) quit her best job ever to go off with her equally peripatetic husband to live at a lighthouse and write all the stories she always wanted to write, including this one.
Something about lighthousekeeping draws me, and thus I picked up this memoir at the library. Woodward’s memoir gives us the background of how she and her husband Jeff came to be lighthousekeepers, and also delves further back into her past including her childhood growing up in the North Peace River region of B.C.
I have ties to the Peace River area, on both the Alberta and B.C. side, living in Hudson Hope and Dawson Creek as a young child, and with both my parents born and growing up on the Alberta side. I also have ties to B.C. with my parents and one brother now living on Vancouver Island, and my sister in Prince Rupert. Her husband is even with the Coast Guard. Add to that Caroline’s history as a publisher’s representative as well as her status as a writer, and mine as a librarian, and this book just felt really connected for me. As she says in this book, in Canada sometimes the six degrees of separation seems more like 1.5 degrees.
Lighthousekeeping is a seven day a week job, with lots of tasks and physical work as part of it. As she shows, the environment can vary a fair bit depending on which lighthouse you are stationed at, and she and her husband have done a few as outlined here. Some are more remote, and some see a lot of visitors, particularly in the summer months. There are issues with weather and wildlife that you have to adjust to, and the need to be handy is apparent.
Part of the job is to keep the station in good upkeep, which means repairing, painting, and improving the infrastructure. Being good at problem-solving seems a plus, especially when it comes to connectivity. The logistics of getting on and off a lighthouse station, and getting supplies on and off is something that needs planning. As she says though, the most important ingredient is the personality mix between the residents at a lighthouse station.
Her chapter on food had me drooling, and I would heartily recommend a follow-up cookbook to this memoir based just on that chapter.
(This review has appeared elsewhere.)