Last summer we climbed to the top of the lighthouse after eating our fill of blue corn waffles at The Cliffs. Each time I go up the narrow, winding staircases, I travel backwards in time. The pitted, worn brick walls on the exterior marked by over a century of salty breezes and winter storms. The creaky iron stairwell with the rough handrail that tens of thousands of fingers have grasped to steady themselves during the dizzying ascent. And then at the top, the whole of Up Island spreads out before you.
The lighthouse is somewhat extraneous today in the era of GPS. But standing in the glass encased room warmed by the rotating beacon and the sun, you can close your eyes and see the ships passing by the point and heading round to Menemsha Harbor or Vineyard Haven beyond. Each summer we try to make a point of going up to the top. I like it, in part, because so little changes in the lighthouse and on that part of the island. Or at least, the change is so gradual and comfortable that we don’t notice it.
At night, driving down State Round on the way to the Outermost or other places (on that rare evening outing), the beacon floats in the air atop the brick tower. It is not as permanent or as unchanging as the stars, but I can’t imagine Martha’s Vineyard without that simple, battered brick tower.Alex Salkever