The sloop Clearwater is moored for the winter in the Esopus Creek about a mile from the lighthouse. An old nineteenth-century brick warehouse on the waterfront serves as the workshop for the sloop’s maintenance. Yesterday, I dropped by to say hello to the winter crew. Danny is back for another stint. He was on the winter crew with me four years ago before I landed the job as lighthouse keeper. The ice was thick in the creek that year. I met Ryan, who showed off the handsome deck boxes he’s working on. In the back corner of the shop, Eli refurbished one of the heavy wooden blocks that helps hoist the sloop’s massive sail. I noticed a blacksmith’s forge set up outdoors in front of the shop. Danny asked if I’d seen any mergansers around yet this season. He remembered the flock of common mergansers that sought out the open water created by the sloop’s bubblers, which prevent ice from forming around the hull. I’d seen only one or two birds so far this year and had yet to see the large flocks that congregate in the creek and river this time of year. Until this morning. When I see the crew again at the next potluck dinner at the Clearwater, I can report to Danny that the mergansers are back. Today, the mergansers arrived to the waters around the lighthouse, diving for fish in the open water among ice flows.
Note: The sloop Clearwater will host a potluck dinner on Friday evening, January 18th. Bring a dish, friends, and a musical instrument if you have one. Danny tells me that “stone soup” is on the menu.