Light Years

Light Years

Memoir of A Modern Lighthouse Keeper

Book - 2015
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In 2007, Caroline Woodward was itching for a change. With an established career in book-selling and promotion, four books of her own and having raised a son with her husband, Jeff, she yearned for adventure and to re-ignite her passion for writing. Jeff was tired of piecing together low-paying part-time jobs and, with Caroline's encouragement, applied for a position as a relief lightkeeper on a remote North Pacific island. They endured lonely months of living apart, but the way of life rejuvenated Jeff and inspired Caroline to contemplate serious shifts in order to accompany him. When a permanent position for a lighthouse keeper became available, Caroline quit her job and joined Jeff on the lights.

Caroline soon learned that the lighthouse-keeping life does not consist of long, empty hours in which to write. The reality is hard physical labour, long stretches of isolation and the constant threat of de-staffing. Beginning with a 3:30 a.m. weather report, the days are filled with maintaining the light station buildings, sea sampling, radio communication, beach cleanup, wildlife encounters and everything in between. As for dangerous rescue missions or dramatic shipwrecks--that kind of excitement is rare. "So far the only life I know I've saved is my own," she says, with her trademark dry wit. Yet Caroline is exhilarated by the scenic coastline with its drizzle and fog, seabirds and whales, and finds time to grow a garden and, as anticipated, write.

Told with eloquent introspection and an eye for detail, Light Years is the personal account of a lighthouse keeper in twenty-first century British Columbia--an account that details Caroline's endurance of extreme climatic, interpersonal and medical challenges, as well as the practical and psychological aspects of living a happy, healthy, useful and creative life in isolation.

Publisher: Madeira Park, British Columbia : Harbour Publishing ©2015.
ISBN: 9781550177275
Characteristics: 221 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates :,illustrations (some colour), map ;,24 cm.

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GLNovak
Feb 27, 2017

As I read this book I felt I was becoming a friend of Caroline Woodward. She grew up in the Peace River country of British Columbia on a homestead, and everything she learned there about self-reliance, taking calculated risks, self-confidence, empathy and neighbourliness have infused her whole adult life. She always knew she would be a writer, and her drive to experience life and to write about it are front and centre in this memoir. Refreshing to read is the thankfulness she has for her life with her soulmate Jeff. I live on Vancouver Island and can picture all the places she talks about. I feel the sense of awe she has for the ocean and all its facets and seasons. The life of lightkeepers she describes leaves me exhausted with its demands. I knew their responsibilities for keeping the lights functioning would entail all weather dedication, but I never thought about all the cleaning, repairing, scientific measurement taking, maintenance work, gardening, and general planning that kind of life requires. I experienced all the flurry of activity when the supply helicopter came, and the joy of her flowering literary life, and the satisfaction of jobs finished and well done. Woodward's love of her life shines through her very readable prose.

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researcherwriter
Jul 03, 2016

Woodward offers a very personal view of life as a BC lighthouse keeper. She makes it clear why she and all her hard-working colleagues play an essential role on this jagged, stormy coast.

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