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The Lennard Island Lighthouse overlooks stormy water near Tofino, B.C.Alamy Stock Photo

Caroline Woodward writes from the Lennard Island Lightstation near Tofino, B.C. She is the author of Light Years: Memoir of a Modern Lighthouse Keeper and other books for adults and children.

People have two responses when they hear I’m a lighthouse keeper. Their eyes widen with genuine excitement and romantic visions of living in a tower with a sea view. Or, for there is seemingly no in-between response, their eyes grow distant, and as they squint warily at me, they may deign to ask how often I get out to “civilization.” Some say how much they’d love to experience big storms and see whales and wolves while others confide sotto voce they could not work and live in such close quarters with their husband/wife/partner/any other human being, in isolation for months on end, working seven days a week, with boat and/or helicopter access only.

It helps immensely to have grown up on an isolated Peace River homestead, to have bonded to wide skies with intriguing cloud formations pushing over the northern Rockies and learned what they portended for our hay or grain. I looked for tracks and other signs to know where the cattle were, paying attention to circling birds and to how the world smelled, from my vantage point astride a placid work horse.

Like the Harlequin ducks who reliably appeared offshore yesterday, I think we bond to our first positive environment, and if we’re lucky, and fortified with a sense of purpose, we return to it or perhaps the essence of it. This is another home with constantly evolving skies, stars and bright planets and tonight, 2020’s super moon spreads a silvered swath of light over the Pacific Ocean. After decades of busy work and family life, I am back, in a marine wilderness this time, observing migrating birds, a container ship or a tugboat on the horizon, an increasingly rambunctious sea, fog rolling in, wind picking up, the quiet, the noise and, sometimes, shapes in the water that do not belong there.

There is time, before, during and after the 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift I work as a lightkeeper, to think uninterrupted thoughts, which is to say I ponder, examine my own life and invent imaginary lives. I am an introvert again, my natural state, with occasional welcome bouts of sociability. There is time to write, rewrite, dream, read, mow lawns, monitor the production of the solar panels and wind turbines, and wash the salty grime off the cupola windows at the top of the tower so our light can shine brightly, as it has since 1904, to warn mariners of our jagged reefs.

Since 2008, I’ve been paid to watch clouds, among other things, and the criteria for my reports are precise: clear, partly cloudy, cloudy, overcast, partly obscured or obscured. No mariner or aviator needs to hear about white horses flying as high as the stars or the grumpy giants I see among the cirrus and cumulonimbus. Or to know I heard the first saasin, Nuu-chah-nulth for hummingbird, among the salmonberry blossoms yesterday. I file weather reports to Prince Rupert Coast Guard Radio every three hours based on the state of the sky, the sea, the wind, intensity of rain, density of fog and the possibility of showers glowering on the horizon.

But if we didn’t have access to the internet, I could not write and work at a lighthouse in the 21st century. That’s my deal-breaker. For others it might be the coffee shop, the local pub or for true extroverts, a highly sociable workplace as well, but for me it’s the time and space and inspiration to write and communicate effectively with editors to whom I send my book reviews and articles, stories and novels.

Lennard Island Lightstation, population two, consisting of my co-worker, best friend and husband of nearly 34 years, and me, will carry on despite the virus rampaging globally. Our family and friends are relieved we are staying put. Our plans to retire on May 1 to travel the highways and backroads of this continent in a solar panel-encrusted motorhome are on hold indefinitely.

We still have a well-stocked pantry and deep freezer, a greenhouse and more than a dozen garden beds. Stinging nettles and nodding onions are wild treats in season, and for spanakopita and vegetarian lasagna, a nettle/kale blend is a zippier combo than frozen spinach. Trust me.

Soon there will be asparagus. And then – wait for it, as we know more than ever how patience and its spiritual sibling, hope, are rewarded – the first strawberries of 2020.

Scenes of solitude: More from Globe Opinion

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Karen Armstrong: In isolation, we can find compassion

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