Friday, September 21, 2012

View from the Top

Sometimes it’s nice to get a view from the top.

You get a whole different perspective from up there.

All of our little day to day nuisances and annoyances seem to shrink away along with the sight and sound of the ocean waves and distant towns as we stand on our lofty perch and breathe in the ever freshening air…along with the cigar smoke provided by a guy named Harry.

Actually, there was no cigar smoke...just a bit of hyperbole on my part for literary enhancement purposes.

This was our view from the top of the Fire Island lighthouse, just a week ago…and Harry was the poor guy assigned to stand up there all day, regardless of weather, and point out the sights to those hearty enough to climb the 192 narrow, winding steps to the top.

We had just returned from yet another state park, out on Long Island, earlier that morning, where Z was able to get her fill of the prize winning Dahlias that they feature there.

Since the Fire Island National Seashore was close by, we checked it out on the way back, took a swim, enjoyed our lunch and took a walk over to the old lighthouse.

On the way, we stopped in at the newly constructed building that houses the original 19th century lens from the original 19th century light, and took in some 19th century historical info, plus the invitation to climb and see the current 19th century light.

Of course Z is not one to let a challenge like climbing a lighthouse pass us by, so off we went, onward and upward, which for me is kind of dicey since I have one of those irrational fear of heights things.

I say irrational fear of heights because that’s how most people usually refer to it…most people without an irrational fear of heights, that is.

What’s so irrational about falling off of a light house?

I mean is that teeny tiny little railing up there really gonna keep a grown person from falling over the edge should he or she happen to trip over a juju bee or something.


It was a tight little squeeze of a stairway to the top, but since it was mostly enclosed, except for these little informational window perches along the way, I was okay.

That is until Z complimented me on how well I was doing, and pointed out just high above sea level we actually were…according to one of the little informational signs in one of the little informational window perches.

That and the fact that she told me not to look down through the grated stairs…which of course…you know….you then have to look down.

But ever the trooper, upward ho I go, which was greeted with a brisk round of applause by the dozen or so folks that had backed up behind me.

Everyone knows, by design, a lighthouse starts out wide at the bottom and ends up about the size of a number 2 pencil at the top. So the last couple of levels abandon the sturdy iron steps in favor of a couple of much smaller conveyances in the form of rickety wooden steps, which are really not much more than a couple of old ladders with a  rope strung down the side; I guess so you can lash yourself to the rungs in the event of an unexpected hurricane.

But I have to say, it was worth the climb to see the late afternoon sun glistening off the lightly rolling sea, the beach spreading along the coastline and the distant skyline of Manhattan, including the new Freedom Tower, rising into the future.

Breathtaking actually, which really wasn’t necessary since I had left most of my wind behind at step 125.

Z and Harry chatted for a while about the various sights, sounds and adventures of a lighthouse keeper, while I, for the most part, hugged the bricks, but did, at one point, manage to step to the rail and peek over the side at the sea gulls flying below.

I admit it was a hard thing to do, and if I had coughed I might have lost a couple of internal organs, but I was glad I did it and even managed to appear cool, calm and collected, despite the betrayal of white knuckles clutching the rail.

Once we had our fill of scenic splendor, and Harry, we climbed back down, where I appreciated my feat even more, not to mention my actual feet back on the ground by finally realizing just how high we had actually climbed. 

Looking up, there was Harry still pointing out the sights; just a speck now, as were we to those above.

All very cool.

It really is about perspective…. fear....

Everything changes…everything stays the same…it just depends on the vantage point from which you stand.

Whether coming or going…or even not going….


 "Like" the Retorts on Facebook

Or just Tolerate them ...if "Like" is too much of a commitment

 on Twitter   

Or subscribe above to receive Retorts by E-Mail

I know...too many options. Probably better to just go back to bed....

For the latest Retorts: Click here 

Retort to the Retort –


  1. I feel reasonably sure that you have climbed Blarney and performed the required osculation. Yes?

  2. beautiful pictures!! jeff was making comments about going up the ferncliff tower, he isn't find of heights. can't wait to share them.
    there's nothing like exploring.

    1. Never been to Ferncliff but I have climbed the old fire tower that used to be up at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. Now that was a challenge, but I did it…. Good hiking trails there?

  3. I suppose that's where the phrase 'DizzyHeights' come from. Success can be a tortuous climb too, along with fear of falling off. I am always amazed at those who built light house in the early days of maritime navigation.


Retort to the Retort -

“Is there anybody alive out there…”