Our 30 April 2003 stay at the Saugerties Lighthouse,
a retirement gift from my co-workers, was most enjoyable. We
arrived at the parking area just past the Coast Guard station
on Lighthouse Drive about 3:30pm. From there we made our way
through the spring time woods and marsh, passing as we did blooming
wildflowers — marsh marigolds, sessile bellwort and other
emergent plants such as jewelweed, skunk cabbage, fiddlehead
etc. At this time of year, there were very few pesky insects.
We arrived at the lighthouse to
be greeted by the host, Allen Emersonn who showed us our room
overlooking Esopus Creek at
its outflow to the Hudson River. We were
welcome to go up into the beacon tower via the ladder and through the hatch.
My wife declined, but I was thrilled to get up there and out on to the catwalk
with wonderful views north and south on the Hudson River and off to the Catskill
Mountains to the West. On the eastern shore, just to the North is Clermont State
Park and which once was the home of Robert Livingston, benefactor of steamboat
inventor, Robert Fulton. Afterward, we took reading material and sat out on the
riverside deck enjoying the passing river traffic with its tugs, barges and pleasure
craft and the occasional Amtrak train coursing along the eastern shore.
About 6pm, we took a jaunt back
into town to purchase more film and returned to the lighthouse
to eat our supper riverside.
Avian inhabitants were actively
flying or feeding as we dined. Cormorants, Herring Gulls, Mute Swans, Mallards,
Common Mergansers, Common Grackles and Barn Swallows were some of the birds observed
nearby. An Osprey was seen to perch on a tree on the distant western shore. All
the while we watched the sun slowly setting and interesting cloud patterns form.
As darkness fell we listened to a chorus of frogs and watched the lighted pleasure
craft approach near us and then disappear on their way back to the shelter of
the Esopus Creek marinas while the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge lights twinkled
in the distance.
Back into the lighthouse we went
upstairs to our cozy TV-less room. We latched the open sash to
keep the chill night air
out and snuggled under the down comforter
for the night. However, I made one more trip up the ladder and through the hatch
to the beacon house. The automated beacon with its timed calibrated off and on
light shone through the darkness giving guidance to the few river travelers still
out and about.
We slept well despite hearing the occasional lonesome whistle of the Amtrak train
as it would approach a crossing on its journey through the night. Next morning,
we woke to gray skies, rain showers and rough waters in the river below. We took
brief showers in the lighthouse's unique cistern-fed facilities. B&B host
Emersonn's piping hot and tasty Colombian roasted coffee and heaping full breakfast
of scrambled eggs, ham and pancakes and his repartee gave us energy to face the
As one looked out at the gray morning through
rough-paned sash windows with their lace valances
and a red geranium on the sill, it made one think of an Andrew
Wyeth painting with its somber colors and lonely views. But
the weather was not all that
harsh, as we bid adieu and worked our way back to our vehicle passing through
stands of phragmites and sedges, and gnarled trees and bright wildflowers.
Once more listening to the lapping waves on the shore with its sun-bleached
driftwood or watching swans feeding in the cove. Or delighting in the call
of a flicker or the hammering of the Red-bellied Woodpecker on a decaying
tree as we crossed over wooden walkways. Or watching a bright
cardinal or red-breasted
robin dart through the feathery yellow-green of willow woods. Ah!
The experience fades all too soon, but the memory
of same will always linger.
Over Dutchess, June