A Year at the Lighthouse

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Some might consider living alone at a remote North Atlantic lighthouse in Scotland’s most northerly territory the Shetland Islands, a fantastic adventure and others a little bit crazy. American Sharma Krauskopf, popular speaker, well-known author and now broadcaster, did just that from May 2001 until April 2002.

A Year at the Lighthouse is a day-by-day account of the events and her feelings during her stay. Written in a positive, candid, often humorous manner, the story encompasses a diverse array of events and happenings, including raising three orphaned lambs (called Caddies in Shetland) that became Sharma’s pets and main characters in the book; the arrival of thousands of birds in Spring, and an attempt to start a garden at the lighthouse for the first time. Visits of family and friends punctuated the isolation as did the Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society’s international weekend event in which Eshaness participated by operating an open house. Hundreds of people from Shetland and beyond attended and GB2ELH (Great Britain 2 Eshaness Lighthouse) had a total of 555 radio contacts over the weekend in 48 countries including 43 lighthouses in 21 countries.

Winter storms shattered the rural quiet in November while tragedy struck in Michigan. Kiri, Sharma’s much loved dog and companion for 11 years was killed and her husband, Dean, injured. Totally distraught, for the first time Sharma doubted whether she could cope with Eshaness any longer. Returning to the United States for Thanksgiving and Christmas and surrounded by family, Sharma began to overcome the emotional scares of the terrorist attacks of September 11th and Kiri’s death. The day after Christmas she returned to the lighthouse but due to mechanical problems and a blizzard in Shetland the trip home became a four-day adventure. Further winter storms, some while Dean was visiting, the invasion of the lighthouse by a film crew, pneumonia and much more make this an enjoyable fascinating read and a window on a very different world. A Year at the Lighthouse is a true story of how a 61 year old American woman living at a remote light-house learns about crofting, the ways and beauty of nature on the Shetland Islands, movie making, amateur radio broadcasting, how to cope with isolation from her family in time of crisis and much more.

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