Guest post: Steve Miller

Steve explains the origins of Tinsori Light:

many years ago — say in the mid 1990s — we were established enough in Maine (and the publishing world) to begin taking short vacations “at the ocean” … which for us meant Old Orchard Beach, since it was both the closest in time and the closest to what we expected of a beach, then — a sort of honky tonk boardwalky feeling, even if there was no real boardwalk.

In a kind of foreshadowing, and as a bow to Doc Smith, we’d chosen a place called “The Skylark Inn” for this adventure….

For some reason we’d decided to travel with a small AM-FM-Weather radio that could (if necessary) be powered with hand-crank. The radio had been used once or twice during snow-events at home in Kennebec County, but it did have batteries and we took it with as part of the general “my ghod, we’re really getting out of town!” kind of attitude, and not knowing if the room would have a radio.

What we hadn’t realized was that once we were at the ocean that radio could provide round-the-clock entertainment. There was a local OK kind of rock station and too many mock-country stations, but what we listened to nearly constantly that trip, and for many thereafter, was — the weather radio. Some days we were getting a very weak signal from the top of Mt. Washington, which we hadn’t realized was basically line of sight to OOB. Most days at the ocean we’d we’d turn the radio on as soon as we rose, and listen to the rotating litany of coastal weather news. We were amused to hear regular warnings about how dangerous the cold water could be, and sometimes paid attention to the wave-height news which could, after all, predict great waves at the beach itself.

Eventually that listening told us there was a place whose signal was often missing, a phrase delivered mechanically, and as if with a slight sense of irony, delivered dryly. The phrase became a catch phrase for us, an in joke for many uses — “Matinicus Rock is not reporting.”

Some of the reporting spots were lighthouses, some were ocean buoys, but the one that stuck with us most was Matinicus Rock.

Through this joke and considering the inevitable “ocean of stars” thing … we ended up talking of places that came and went, places that reported to the rest of the universe at whim rather than necessity … places that darn well refused to report! darnit! and eventually came to name some place Runig’s Rock, and another place “Tinsori Light.”

The minds of writers are strange. Where do we get our ideas, you ask? We get ours from Matinicus Rock.

Alas, the old weather radio gave up the ghost when the cheap batteries it came with gave up the ghost by splitting and leaking into the interior. We achieved another, nicer radio soon after, one without a crank, and today — to get into the mood for a trip to the ocean — I set it out on the refrigerator top (in order to get the best signal) and listened to the Dresden station churning out reports. Sharon laughed when we got to the “beware of cold water” warnings and then we both were sure we heard that message echoing through deep space: “Matinicus Rock is not reporting.”

Where do we get our ideas, you ask? We get ours from Matinicus Rock.

More on Mantinicus Rock

Abbie Burgess, Light Keeper


2 thoughts on “Guest post: Steve Miller”

  1. Line of sight from Mt Washington? I had no idea!

    I can tell you I’m glad of the ideas that have been sparked by Mantinicus Rock (which I’d never heard of).

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