St. Marks Lighthouse, FL

St. Marks Lighthouse, FL

Annie studied the colorful pages of the magazine that her father, the lighthouse keeper at St. Marks Lighthouse, brought back when he went to town to get supplies. Vivid pictures of fall landscapes showed trees ablaze in shades of orange, red and yellow.

“Mother, why don’t our trees look like that?” Annie held up the magazine for her mother to see.

“Those trees grow in colder climates than ours and change colors in autumn.”

“Why don’t we have autumn?”

“We do, but it looks different here in Florida.”

“I wish we had pretty colors like that.”

“Oh, we have our own fall colors. Look around and see where they are,” Mother said, with a twinkle in her eye.

Annie followed her father up the steps as he went to clean the glass in the lantern room. She stepped out on the gallery and gazed out over the calm blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The October breeze carried a hint of cooler weather.

She strolled around the outside of the tower, seeing the sandbars that stretched far out into the water, their resident crabs and oysters visible at low tide.  Beyond the sandbars lay the mouth of the St. Marks River, and continuing around the gallery, marshes extended as far as she could see.

As she viewed the landscape, something orange fluttered past. She jerked her head to follow it, then saw another, then another as scores of butterflies descended onto the vegetation below.

Annie hurried down the stairs. “Mother! Come look at all the butterflies!”


Anna’s younger sister and brother followed her outside where they stood mesmerized by the abundance of color floating around them. Besides the masses of orange butterflies, the children spotted yellow, green, black and blue butterflies.

The youngsters ran from bush to bush pointing out the colorful insects which seemed especially attracted to the many flowering plants in the area.

“Mother! Look at all this color!” Annie spun around in a circle, arms outstretched.

Mother nodded, thankful that fall had arrived at the lighthouse, bringing its unique touches to the coastal landscape.

“How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” Psalm 104:24

From late September through October, Florida’s Gulf Coast is visited by thousands of butterflies migrating to Mexico for the winter. St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful place to see them.