Thrill to the Romance of Lighthouses

Shirley Temple in “Captain January”

What is it about lighthouses that so captures our imaginations?  I have loved them since I was a kid, and I grew up in Arizona.  The first lighthouse I saw in person was at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina when I was seven, and I already loved them.  That was because my sisters and I had seen Shirley Temple’s “Captain January,” and I imagined tap-dancing my way up and down a winding, lighthouse staircase, if I ever got the chance.

Point Loma, San Diego

Then I started reading Emilie Loring’s books and fell in love with the idea of motoring to my own, private lighthouse, like Melissa Barclay in Give Me One Summer.  By the time I saw my next lighthouse, Point Loma in San Diego, I was sixteen and filled with romantic notions.  A sixteen-year-old girl’s heart and a lighthouse are made for each other.  I fell hard.

There followed lighthouses on the Door County Peninsula in Wisconsin and on Diamond Head in Hawaii, but I knew I had to make it to New England some day and see exactly what Emilie was talking about.  On my first trip to Boston, I signed up for a coastal lighthouse tour–a whole day of viewing lighthouses up close, from the water!

That was the day I remembered what lighthouses are for–to light the mariner’s way in fog, night, and storm.  We got fog.  Our guide pointed out the lights, and I could tell the beacons were sweeping from side to side by the low-high-low of the distant beams.  If I’d been making my way toward shore in a small craft, I’m sure I would have felt reassured by their guidance.  Instead, I shivered in the gray cold and wondered what the equivalent of a “rain check” might be for a lighthouse tour.  (Answer:  none)


At my desk in Kansas, I look up to see Quoddy Light on my August calendar.  Nearby are a ceramic model of the Boston Light that my son painted for me and a fancy teacup and saucer that I keep to evoke an Emilie Loring mood when I write.  The connection is natural.

Lighthouse romance
A special kind of romance

Lighthouses capture what I mean when I think of Emilie Loring as a “romance” writer.  Hers was the romance of adventure and mystery, an exciting sense of something extraordinary, an elevation of thought and purpose.  If you thrill a little when you stand near a lighthouse, you know the feeling.

Version 2


I’m writing this post on National Lighthouse Day.  School days are coming, and summer thoughts will soon give way to fall.  If you’re near a lighthouse, take advantage of the lowering rays of the sun and go out for a stroll or a picnic.  If you’re far away, like I am, enjoy these lighthouse photos and let imagination take you traveling.  Romance is moments away.




Piedras Blancas
It’s easy to dream atop the Piedras Blancas Light Station, near San Simeon, California

Please write your comment here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s