A collection of blogs and musings from the people that work at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum - Florida's Finest Lightstation.

April 2007 Archives

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April 24, 2007

Lighthouse outdoor classroom

Posted by: in Natural World

Nature has always been a part of Lighthouse histories: the sea, beaches, dunes, inlets, salt marshes and the plants and animals inhabiting them. Humans and lighthouses don’t exist in vacuums. Natural forces influence our lives and shape our actions, our architecture and culture. Engaging school tours and regular visitors in the natural history of the St. Augustine Lighthouse is exciting education.

The Lighthouse has a natural classroom that’s never closed. Six acres of oak hammock now exist on dunes that were, at one time, bare. The present oak hammock is a living classroom and class is always in session. Earlier this year, visitors to the top of the tower looked down to see a mother and two young raccoons curled up in tree-top grape vines to sleep. Tracks of raccoon, armadillo, opossum, gopher tortoise, and mourning doves leave patterns in the parking lot and on the nature trails. We have a pair of box turtles—over the last six years, the female has been seen many times in the garden by the brick wall surrounding the tower. Three years ago, I found a male box turtle trying to cross Anastasia Blvd in front of the fire station and brought him to a safer environment in the Lighthouse garden. Since box turtles prefer a forest habitat and stay put in small home territories, we hope the matchmaking effort has paid off.

Last week, Donna Schleifer on tower duty, spotted a mature bald eagle soaring by the tower. Red- shouldered and red-tailed hawks, black and turkey vultures and bald eagles are attracted to thermals forming within sight of the lighthouse. And, as Kathleen McCormick observed in her blog, wading birds fly to and from the Alligator Farm—early mornings on their way to favorite spots to fish; late afternoons flocking back to the Alligator Farm to nest and roost. We’ve seen swallow-tailed kites, tree swallows, and now chimney swifts, back from South America for spring and summer, dart around the tower snatching insects on the wing.

I hope to get my digital camera up and running soon to record Lighthouse plants, mammals, reptiles, birds, insects and spiders to share with you. Saturday, May 12 we’ll offer a workshop, “Insects and Spiders of the Lighthouse,” 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. Meet in the breezeway to the left of the Visitors Center entrance. Please call for reservations, 829-0745 and ask for Gail. Join me to explore the secret life of the Lighthouse hammock. I look forward to the adventure.

April 20, 2007

Of Truth, Earth Day and Creative Conflict

Posted by: Kathy Fleming in

We have recently been giving literally hundreds of school tours at the museum. We have had just tons of wonderful comments back about them, espcially since our resident naturalist, Gail Compton, began to share her Owl Calls and information about the natural environment on and around our 6 acre light station.

We even had an unexpected guest. Hearing Gail's Owl calls on tape, one of our Great Horned Owls showed up and sat in the trees over the children's heads along the path to the lighthouse. What a delight. Here is this Owl in all his majesty calling out to us and looking on. And below are groups of children calling back to him. They were delighted.

You see the natural environment was very much a part of the life of a lighthouse keeper. When we study it we can see how the world has changed and recognize the importance of saving it today. We know that flocks of birds dominated Anastasia Island during the late 19th century to early 20th century. Some of them are still around today.

Studying our enviornment allow us to explore our world and dialog. We don't always agree with each other and this is why museum life and education works for us. It takes community to participate in museum life. We talk about and share and build truth from many disparate sources. Owls are one such source. Children are another. What all these tours and all this fun have made me think about is how we learn and interact with what is true and real in our world. We can save the Earth, only if we love it and care about it and can decide what is really true.

There is a debate raging now on some lighthouse stations between the cultural resoruces managers and the natural resoruces managers. Balance is required and adequate funding for places that have both history and nature. We love and save both our enviorment and the story of our culture. Both are critically important anchors as we move forward as caring citizens and good decision makers. Both help us do the "good work" that connects us to our mission in non-profit life. Both are a piece of a greater truth and seeing the entire truth is very important to good decisions.

When we really connect with something true, something hopeful, something loving, remarkable things happen. Owls show up to say they agree.

Continue reading "Of Truth, Earth Day and Creative Conflict" »

April 10, 2007

Building LAMP's Volunteer Dive Team

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMPosts

One of our goals here at LAMP is to involve the community with our research, as directly as possible. This will not only expand our public archaeology program, but also help us accomplish more fieldwork and research than we have been able to in the past. We have had eight local divers from the St. Augustine and Jacksonville area who have expressed interest in working side by side with underwater archaeologists. In order to build a skilled research team, it takes a lot of training and experience--after all, scientific diving is not the same a recreational diving, and it involves a lot of work beyond an open water certification.


Continue reading "Building LAMP's Volunteer Dive Team" »

April 8, 2007

Live at the Masters!

Posted by: Beau Phillips in Barely Legible, Public Relations

Here at the St. Augustine Lighthouse it is a little chilly this Easter Sunday morning; (and by the way Happy Easter!) however, none of that matters because its Sunday at the Masters.

For golf enthusiasts - check that - for those who are sports fans you already know how great a day this is. Happy Easter indeed! For those who are not I won’t try to explain it in the condescending way guys often do, Instead I’ll just tell you its tradition, pageantry, emotion, excitement, and arguably the best sporting event every year. Why am I writing about it? Because it is everywhere, and to steal a line from Tony the Tiger it’s Grrrrreeeaaaat!.

A golf tournament steeped in Tradition that has historically been resistant to change is leading the way in live sports entertainment. Visit Masters.org and you’ll get to watch the most exclusive golf tournament from several different perspectives for free.

April 6, 2007

Greasy Hands and Smiling Faces - The Guest Keeper Experience

Posted by: Rick Cain in From the Lens Room

Last week our quarterly maintenance was due on the rotation mechanism. Every three months we put jacks under the flash panels, pull the friction rollers, inspect everything, and put it all back together again. What made this session more fun was that it was the first time that we had guest keepers here and they got to get their hands dirty and do some real lighthouse keeping. Corey and Angela were not at all shy. They jumped right in, got greasy, and seemed to enjoy the experience, particularly when we had everything reassembled and they saw how smoothly the mechanism turned.


Angela prepares to replace a chariot wheel


Cory gets up close and personal with our lighthouse


Ah, the rewards of being a lighthouse keeper. A job well done!
We hope you guys come back real soon because you do good work and I have a lot of painting that needs to be done and we need to clean windows and we need to remove some rust from the ironwork and I need ........ :-)

April 3, 2007

Keepers Still Have Work to Do

Posted by: Beau Phillips in Barely Legible

They're not carrying oil up 219 steps or performing the daily arduous tasks that a Light Keeper would have had to do in the days before electricity. However, today those of us that work at this functioning piece of Americana have our own responsibilities in keeping an aid to Navigation -- just ask Cory and Angela.

This weekend Cory and Angela enrolled in our Guest Keeper Program here at the St. Augustine Lighthouse. They participated in lens maintenance, worked in the Museum Store, shadowed a school tour, and served beverages in the Keepers' Cafe', and got to do some of the things that Light Keepers are privileged to do. I hope you guys enjoyed your time here and that the top of the tower at sunset was worth the climb.


April 2, 2007

Good Neighbors...

Posted by: Kathleen McCormick in Shine

There's no better time of year than now to watch the view from the top of our Lighthouse. From my station above the trees I can see the ever-changing ocean, the trees in bloom and, best of all, the birds returning to build nests across the street at the Alligator Farm. The wood stork are already building homes in the treetops above the swamp and visit our backyard to gather nesting material and generally hang out, sometimes flying near enough to the tower that we get close-up views that are impossible from the ground.

Continue reading "Good Neighbors..." »