Lighthouse Letters
By Sharma Krauskopf

This is an article by Sharma Krauskopf from Michigan who fell in love with Scotland - and decided to buy a lighthouse keepers' cottage at Eshaness, a remote location in Shetland, in the far north of Scotland and live there each winter. These pages were previously part of the "Scottish Radiance e-magazine Web site which was created by Sharma.

The Hogmanay Rose

Four o'clock in the afternoon and the hillside was covered with the grayish black of early night. Not so unusual for Scotland on a Dec. 30th. We had been up for 18 hours and were suffering from a severe jet lag after the long flight across the Atlantic. Staying awake should have been hard but not this trip. My husband and I had been accompanied by a long time friend, Sue. It was her first trip to the bonnie land. Her excitement was enough to keep everyone awake and enthusiastic. By my calculations we were 10 or 15 minutes away from our destination - a farm bed and breakfast just north of Stranraer in the Galloway area of Southwest Scotland.

As we passed the dark and quiet little towns, Sue's excitement ran high. She noticed every little thing we might have missed having been in Scotland so many times. As we reached the edge of the big sea loch, upon which the Stranraer port was found, we saw as we came out of the hills a lighthouse's beacon far out in the darkness. (Graphic of Corsewall Lighthouse is by Wilson Adams, via Wikimedia).

"Look, its Corsewall," I shouted. Corsewall was the reason we were in Stranraer. We were going to try and buy the lighthouse station's keeper's accommodations and this was an inspection trip.

"We must be almost there. We should start looking for the car park on the loch side. The B & B is right across from it" Sue said. Being her first trip she had been given the seat of honor on the passenger's side in the front and was responsible for navigation.

"There is the car park," I shouted from a back seat.

Dean slammed on the breaks and had a few rather choice words for our lack of warning but what could he expect? It was night and we had never been to this B & B before.

"There's the lane. Turn now." Sue told our rather frustrated driver.

As we followed the lane, it took a few turns and dead ended at the front door of a nice farm house. As we parked the car, our headlights fell on a magnificent red rose which was still blooming in a protected corner of the garden.

Sue being a rose lover was amazed to see this one precious bloom still surviving in the late December night. It was an omen that this was going to be a wonderful trip.

We struggled out of the car and being so tired we did not investigate the beautiful flower. We quickly knocked on the door and went into the house. The Patricks, our wonderful host and hostess, met us and took us directly to a charming large room which we were told looked out on the water. Knowing we would be late in arriving, we had arranged for the Patricks to do an evening meal for us. Dinner even included a special desert because it was Sue's birthday. After dinner we went directly to bed since we could not stay awake a minute longer.

The next morning we looked out our window. Yes indeed, the loch was in sight sparkling in the bright sunlight. Breakfast finished we were off to meet the banker and the Northern Lighthouse Board attendant at the Corsewall Lighthouse. Since we were late we once again saw the lovely rose but rushed right by it. Being such a clear beautiful day the visit to the lighthouse went well and we took many photographs. After we were done at the lighthouse, we explored the Corsewall area and found a delightful nursery with a tea room. What ecstasy sitting at the table sipping tea surrounded with the smell of jasmine and the bright colors of blooming plants. The flowers made me think of the rose back at the B & B.

After tea we went to Stranraer and checked out the stores. We bought a few supplies since this was New Year's Eve day. We had been warned nothing would be open for a couple of days as the area commenced their Hogmanay celebration. We had plans to spend New Years Day at the Lighthouse measuring for furniture so we purchased a shepherd's pie which we could warm in the Lighthouse's cooker.

As we arrived back at the Patricks, we rushed into the house not even noticing the rose this time. We wanted to be in time for our dinner reservations at a local restaurant. Later when we came home there were a few snow flakes in the air but it was not particularly cold. Hurrying into the house the rose now dusted with a few snow flakes once again was ignored even though every time we parked the headlights illuminated its scarlet head.

That evening we had a wonderful Hogmanay celebration with our host and hostess which included a black bun, a coal fire, wine, whisky and Bushmills, (Stranraer is the first ferry stop from Ireland so Irish whisky was as plentiful as Scotch) and watching the Edinburgh Hogmanay celebration on the tellie.

We spent New Years Day at the lighthouse measuring and enjoying the sea. In the evening we returned to the B & B chattering about which furniture would fit where and hurried in the house once passing by the rose.

The rest of the time in Stranraer was spent in being tourists seeing the various villages and other lighthouses in the area. Like all great holidays it was too soon time to leave Stranraer. As we packed the car I noticed the rose again. It was not quite as beautiful as the first time we saw it two days ago. Now it was covered with a snow. I knew it was probably frozen but it still stood magnificent in its corner. Tears came to my eyes. I had not taken time to inspect it when we first came and was sorry I had been so preoccupied with the lighthouse arrangements. I never once went up and enjoyed its lovely fragrance. For a moment I considered taking a time now to smell it but Sue reminded me there would not be any aroma from a frozen blossom.

That Hogmanay rose taught me a lesson which I took with me and am reminded of now as another Hogmanay takes place. Do not get so trapped in what is going on in your day to day life to take a few moments to experience the small treasurers which come your way. I missed the joy of that beautiful Hogmanay Rose. We were so absorbed with the lighthouse business we did not take even one minute to inspect close up that stunning December bloom until it was too late. The way things worked out we should have taken time for the rose because it would have given us a moment of joy. We lost the lighthouse in a bid off and it only brought us sorrow.

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