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January 2011

Memories of Barnegat Light

On Thursday, I posted a link to my column in The Record on birding at Barnegat Light.

My fondness for the lighthouse goes back to my childhood, when my family lived in Philadelphia and sometimes spent a week in the summer at Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island. I was five or six, and my brother John eight or nine.

P1030716 We'd go to the beach during the day, and play skeeball at night, and the only care in the world seemed to be whether my brother and I were tracking sand into our small rental cottage.

My father was a professional illustrator and artist, and he liked to paint watercolors on our vacation. 

Inevitably, he painted Barnegat Light -- while my mom watched my brother and me on the beach.

One of my mother's favorite stories of all-time was about how she got chatting with another woman on the beach, and the woman asked my mom where my dad was.

"He's painting Barnegat Light," my mother said proudly.

To which the other woman replied, "He's not afraid of heights?"

I have never seen my mom happier than when she told that story.

Now the painting is on my living-room wall, and  it brings warm memories on a cold winter's day.