The latch engages with a satisfying click as we close the Visitor Center for the day. The grounds of Crisp Point Lighthouse are always open and a few visitors remain to enjoy the setting sun. They require little of us as volunteer keepers, and we’re ready to enjoy another glorious evening on the shore of Lake Superior.
Our plein air dining room awaits as we prepare our dinner on the grill and camp stove. It’s a challenge to plan meals with food that will last for five days without fresh ice for our cooler, but nevertheless we eat well. Perhaps it’s the ambiance that makes everything taste so good.
By the time we’ve finished our meal sunset is approaching. Living in Duluth we never see the sun set over Lake Superior, so we appreciate the treat. This trip we have been blessed with clear skies and just enough clouds at the horizon to create that special red glow. We have our choice of venues for this spectacle. A bench above the beach, a log in the sand and even the top of the lighthouse are all at our disposal. We linger, knowing that the greatest brilliance develops well after the sun has disappeared below the horizon. And we are rewarded.
The night is still young and I’m ready for the next glow. A stack of firewood awaits and our fire ring is at the ready. The dry wood roars to life and flames soon dance at the whim of the wind. The sky darkens as we stare into the blaze and the array of stars overhead intensifies with each passing moment. Looking up away from the fire we can already see the Milky Way and the Big and Little Dippers – the full extent of our astronomy knowledge. But it’s enough.
Before calling it a night, I attempt a few star pictures with the lighthouse. As my shots flash briefly on the camera display, I see it. That unmistakable glow, there on the left at the base of the lighthouse. Before my eyes can detect them, the Northern Lights show up in my photos. Abandoning my star project, I alert Rich and move to the shore to watch. A green band appears in the sky, arching up and over the lake.
The show is brief but still a thrill. Rich is ecstatic – this is what he most wanted to see and photograph here. Although the lights have dissipated, Rich sets up shop under a blanket in a lawn chair overlooking the lake to wait. Lacking his fortitude and conviction, I head for the tent.
Over an hour passes with no action and still Rich waits. Even he’s nearly ready to call it quits, but hangs in there just long enough. The Northern Lights reappear and present a real display. Rich is in his element, capturing the Aurora and the lighthouse together.
Apparently the display was too ephemeral for Rich to wake me up in time to see it, so I missed that highlight. But I don’t feel cheated. I still had an enchanted evening.