Cabot Head Lighthouse c. 1898-1900


This late 19th century photograph of the Cabot Head Lighthouse on Georgian Bay captivated me.

history_cabot_head_light_11_20110727_1966984813_2Who is the woman standing in the doorway, at the entrance to what was once the kitchen?

She seems to be pausing for a moment at the door’s threshold—that is, in a space that is betwixt and between the inside of the lighthouse and a wild outside.

Inside are all her endless domestic chores: washing, cooking, laundry, tending to children…and yet it looks as if the wind has taken up the edge of her apron and is mischievously beckoning her to come outside into a wind-swept day and all that it might hold.

As a 21st century woman, I was strangely drawn to this figure. I so often feel the pull of the “inside”—all its chores, duties and responsibilities—and yet I find myself sometimes wishing that I could step out into a “wild” and see what it holds for me. I often feel like a person caught on a threshold—betwixt and between. I suspect that this has much to do with the swirl of contradictory social expectations that still exist for many women.

Then I wondered: did the woman turn around and go back inside? Or did she step out into the wind and sunshine?

Would I write a conventional book about Cabot Head or would I try something more adventurous…say an Eco-Gothic novel?

Then it struck me. If she were alive today to tell me about her choice, the woman would be around 134 years old.

That was the moment when I decided to step across my own “threshold” and go out into a “wild” by  writing Perdita….

Hilary Scharper’s Homepage

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