by Kathleen Ernst
For the past several years my husband Scott and I have served as volunteer docents at a lighthouse. We spend nine days in late May-early June living in Pottawatomie lighthouse, which is in Rock Island State Park, WI.
We give tours to guests from ten to four each day, and do some light housekeeping. The park campground is over a mile away, and there are no vehicles or roads on the island, so our afternoons and evenings are pretty peaceful.
Pottawatomie is the oldest light station in Wisconsin. It was established in 1836, although this gorgeous structure wasn’t built until 1858. Keepers lived at the station until 1946, when the light was automated. (For more photos and details, check out Should It Stay, Or Go? and Beyond Death’s Door on my personal blog.)
Scott and I refer to the experience as camping indoors. The lighthouse has no cell reception, electricity or running water. The parlor has a stove, but the rest of the building is unheated.
I love history, and I love nature, so the gig is ideal. More than that, though, my time there is good for me as a writer. Like everyone else, my days are usually crammed too full. My days on Rock Island give me time to read, to scribble in my notebook, to think. No email, no FB, no phones. I don’t realize how fragmented my brain gets until I have a chance to truly slow down. I come home with pages and pages of notes and ideas.
How about you? Do you have a favorite spot to recharge?