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Travelling back through time in the ARJ-a-tron 2000, to the days I stayed in a 1930s era lighthouse keeper's house on an island.
Adventures of the Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter
Funny thing, that my dad posted about memory, about the time machines our storehouse brains become, over the years. I have been thinking about it a lot lately too, although I guess it's not that weird that our trains of thought occasionally cross lines. A little while ago he sent me this link to the lighthouse on Anacapa Island, where he used to work for Channel Islands National Park.
I opened up my email on the day he sent me the link, and saw that photo and went spinning off into a whirl of 15 year old memories. I remember the first time I saw Casa Blanca, eating microwave popcorn with the park rangers on duty, sitting on the floor of the island's visitor center. Outside the night was so pitch black you could clearly see the Milky Way, and twenty miles across the channel Ventura's nighttime street lights lit up with an orange glow. The wind was howling fiercly. Earlier that day I had helped Sue the rat lady check the traps for the invasive black rats that were pushing out the island's non-native mice species: the only of its kind anywhere in the world. I was somewhat repulsed by the job but also disappointed that we didn't find anything but a leg that one rat had chewed off to escape. When I reported our findings as the popcorn puffed and blew in the microwave, one of the rangers teased me: somewhere on that island a three-legged rat was planning his revenge against me!
I remember the first time I learned how to snorkel. I was having a hard time trusting that I could put my face in the water and be able to breathe at the same time. I'd put my face down, panic, and straighten up again before I had time to see anything. Finally my dad came down into the water with me, in the protected little half circle of the landing cove, with sheer volcanic cliffs surrounding us on three sides. He held my hand and I adjusted my mask and snorkel, lay down on my stomach floating, remembered to breathe and I looked. I saw the long strands of kelp, anchored to rocks at the bottom of the cove, straining their way to the surface and the light. They insinuated with the push-pull of the surge. Then I saw the purple pincushions of sea urchins dotting the rocky bottom, finding whatever they could to eat. I held very still, captivated, almost forgot to breathe again. Then I saw a fish, an opaleye, silently gliding inbetween strands of kelp. This was amazing. It was like having your very own aquarium the size of the entire Pacific ocean. I couldn't stop. I don't know how long we spent together, dad holding daughter's hand, captivated, sometimes pointing out things, paddling slowly around that little semi-circle cove.
Yesterday I got a present for Mr Wiggin's birthday. The present was a two hour kayak rental, and we paddled around Rose Bay. We had a really good time, and we were so tired and wet by the end of it. We ate burgers (mine veggie) and fries at a cafe overlooking the waterfront and huddled under the towel on the bus ride home.
Before that, though, on the way to the kayak rental place, we took the ferry from Circular Quay. There were dozens of sailboats on the water, taking advantage of the pure sunny day, the good stiff breeze. We stood by the rail and looked out over the water as we waited for the ferry to arrive at the Rose Bay wharf. Mr Wiggins asked me a sailing question, and I gave him as good an answer as I remembered. Then my brain went off again, into the time machine, and I was a little girl, living on a sailboat named Katherine. Funny things, those time machines in your head.