Thursday’s Children February 14, 2013

A weekly blog hop where writers share their inspirations. Please join us!

A weekly blog hop where writers share their inspirations. Please join us!

Inspired by blizzards, and local history…

Last week I lost track of time and had to scramble to get my TC post up. This week Snowmaggedon/Snowpocalypse/Nemo made it virtually impossible to leave my house for the two days of the storm, except to shovel and drag my reluctant doggies outside to do their business.

I’ll be going stir-crazy by Monday, just itching to fly the coop. So, I ‘m actually writing this on Saturday the 9th.

Storms make for great writing opportunities within stories too. They’re dramatic. Primal. The wind screeches and trees snap-and if you live by the ocean, the waves roar like a raging sea monster. Bad weather forces people out of their comfortable routines and behavior patterns. The isolation of a storm may lead some to feel more vulnerable, and some to feel less accountable. Being trapped in a house by a Nor’easter is akin to being marooned on an island. It’s just you and the people trapped with you, or with whom you are trapped.

Tension builds. Anything could happen. 

In 1978, a very dramatic incident happened at Goat Island Light, which is about three miles down the road from where I now live. Here’s a photo from the late 19th or early 20th century. I’m not sure when the one below it was taken, though clearly it was taken after the invention of airplanes!


US Coast Guard Photo

US Coast Guard Photo

Below are photos of Goat Island Light taken this past weekend by their webcam.  That tall white structure is the new fog bell tower. You’ll be relieved to know the lighthouse is no longer “manned”, because in the middle photo all that black stuff is sea water that’s breached the rocky base of the island. As is the foamy white stuff in the last photo.


goat island stationjpg


The passageway on the right connects the lightkeeper’s house to the lighthouse, which is out of view in the picture above.  The passageway is quite new. It wasn’t the first one to be built.

Back to 1978, or more specifically the Blizzard of ’78.

Martin Cain was the lightkeeper at that time. He had just stepped from the passageway into the kitchen when the entire passageway was swept out to sea. I used that incident in my book TENDRIL (but with different characters, a hurricane not a blizzard, and a different, fictional lighthouse). In real life, a rescue helicopter came to evacuate the Cain family, but there was room for only one adult and one child. Martin’s wife took the baby, leaving her husband and two year old son behind. Can you even imagine?

By the way, many claim the lighthouse is haunted by its last resident lightkeeper, who died in 1992. Presumably a rogue wave capsized his boat when he was a short distance from home. But that’s another story…

A few days ago, on neighboring Vaughn Island, human bones were found by a person walking his dog. They may belong to the college students who went missing just before Christmas. Some of their clothing was found on Goat Island, shortly after their disappearance. The bones were found above the usual high tide mark, probably deposited there by the the thirty foot seas we had during the storm.

Yet another tragic and mysterious story…

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer Portland Press Herald

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer
Portland Press Herald

Are there any events from local history that have inspired your writing?

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