I love Kevin Mahoney; there’s never a Crew date that goes by when he doesn’t lend his calm spirit to the endeavor and to me. On the way back from Miller’s in his van, he said he could not wait to see the photographs and ideas we get when we visit Tarrytown Light, and he is so right. Our place is starting to emerge from years of weathering. It’s beginning to look a lot better out there.
I hesitate to say it, but we could be on the home stretch on the interior. I can see the rooms emerging in the light and air that fills the fourth floor when you are up there and the stationary round windows are out--we’ve been taking them out to try to get the paint off the glass. With fresh air blowing in, you can understand why the lighthouse was such a remarkable place in which to live and grow up.
My mother used to call my sisters and me to her kitchen window, “Girls! Come look at the sunset!” And we would. So it might have been that Kate called Jacob and Mae to a window to see a storm coming up over the Narrows, lightning on the Jersey side, or a sunset over the Kill Van Kull.
Much to my delight Cooper took on hanging the doors. He sorted out hinges and hung a closet door in the sitting room and the six kitchen cabinet doors. We were on the same wavelength because, frustrated by the time spent on getting paint off the round windows, I stopped and used the water, Ivory detergent, and ammonia I’d tried on them on the linoleum that covers the cabinet shelves. Lots of scrubbing with steel wool and even a scraper and a razor blade, and they became a lot cleaner. Nice to know the doors are protecting a clean and painted space. I’m stopping there. I’m not taking off the linoleum or the metal brackets that hold it in. It will do for now. It’s clean, and the doors are beautiful. Can’t wait for the fasteners.
As always Meg was by my side, right-hand woman, trying to get the paint off the windows, (who the hell painted the outside glass and why?), polying some window sills again, grinning when I asked her to throw another coat of poly on "my” stepladder, and finishing up some painting, doing a quick sweep of the first cascade of stairs, and closing up at the end of the day.
I guess the reasons I sweep, wash, and clean out there are many. It is emerging. That hit me today when Coop started hanging the doors we’d slaved over. The white room, the painted closet, and now an oak door.
Another reason is the need to make it a space we can work in—“a place for everything and everything in its place” so what we need can be at hand and there’s no debris around.
And I know, but this is an s o c, that our lighthouse is responding to our care. I remember driving by Building D after a volunteer had power washed the granite façade. It gleamed.
Glancing out from time to time from the kitchen windows to the seed-filled grasses growing through the foundation cracks, I thought about Kate. Did she grow herbs and flowers out there? Was she a gardener?
Lighthouse Log Book is a series of stream of consciousness writings by Executive Director Erin Urban after each Crew date at Robbins Reef. It’s informal and meant to impart a sense of the energy of the volunteers and the work they accomplish in regular seven-hour workdays to Robbins Reef Lighthouse.