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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Amelia Island Artists Workshop
Sandra Baker-Hinton
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
904-491-8040,  904-557-1195 cell
http://www.sandrabaker-hinton.com
http://www.ameliasanjongallery.com
Amelia Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)

   
With Sea Turtle season 6 months away I begin my annual search for the signs of Fall.  It looks like it will
 not
be possible to head to Northeast Tennessee this Fall.  There is too much work to do to prepare for
the peak retail season.  Being in charge of your own destiny is at best a risky life
.

What I do have in the corner of my yard, my one splash of Fall color, is what could be called a "weed
tree" because it is sometimes considered (especially by my neighbors with more immaculate
lawns) a nuisance.  It does spread its seeds freely but the Sumac has always been one of my favorite
autumn reds so I hang onto it resisting offers to cut it down.
 
Being in charge of your own destiny in a squirrels life is also not without consequences and
dangers from territorial squirrels who have been persistent in trying to chase her away.  She
holds her hurt foot up as she makes her three legged descent to get her nut treats.  I have
managed to get some antiseptic salve on it and it seemed to be better later in the week.
With turtleless mornings I can spend more time in the yard calling Shelly in for a snack, some play time,
and enjoying my flowers which seem to be thriving in the "somewhat" cooler temperatures of October.
This Sky Vine blooms much nicer with cooler weather and even winter if it doesn't get frost bit.  I have
planted red petunia's for winter and Christmas.
 
Our biggest problem with Shelly's move to the yard is Bubba the squirrel yard bully
and Bubba's mom "Big Momma" who keep chasing her away to the point that I think she is afraid
to use the perfect little nest we had found for her.  I am not sure where she is sleeping but I
continue to feed her near the nest so she doesn't forget about it when the weather gets colder
or when there comes the time to raise her own brood.
 
She drinks from the fresh water I put out for her each day and the palmetto which had sprouted
in the fork of the huge oak tree is loving the extra water.  I did not know that squirrels were so
territorial.  I hate that for her because it seems lonely out there with no family bonds or friends.
 
I volunteered to deliver the island artist's entries for the Jacksonville Watercolor Society's Exhibition
to St. Augustine, an excuse to run by the Alligator Farm to get one more usage out of my season pass. 
Lots of gators but strangely quiet to me after the Spring and Summer's bird nesting activity. 
 
A small cluster of Ibis and a Heron were taking turns in the bathing area splashing themselves
then using this natural drying rack overhead.
 
The one real treat was having lots of Roseate Spoonbills hanging out although
it was nappy time for most everyone.  Not at all like the frenzied activity of nesting season.
 
A very lethargic bunch of birds.
 
This young Night Heron all but disappears in the foliage of the trees as he slumbers away.
 
The cotton candy pink of the Spoonbills is such an unexpected color to find in nature.  It ranges from
pale pink
for the younger birds to intense pink with touches of pinkish orange in places on the more mature adults.  Catching them flying overhead is a pastel eye candy with the pink against a baby blue sky.
 
I was surprised to see a mature Black Crowned Night Hawk down wading in the swimming area
instead of sleeping in the trees.  Their startling red eye color may have something to do with their
nocturnal habits.
  --Warning reptiles ahead--
Since it was so quiet I decided to go check out the new addition which houses some more exotic
reptiles, the main attraction being a Komodo Dragon.  I did not see the giant lizard outside so I went into
the darkened room with the lighted cages of various seriously venomous snakes from Africa and the
more Middle East.
 
There in all his splendor was "The King", King Cobra that is.  He looked at me and I looked at him
and I decided I was glad for the glass between us. 
 
As an artist I always enjoy finding good examples of pattern and texture especially when they are
all rolled into one.  What had appeared to be just another log laying outside in Mr. Komado's lair
was actually the Dragon himself.
 
We had a nose to nose experience as we checked out each other.  Another lazy critter in the
midday heat.  Carpenters have been busy adding a wing to his lair in anticipation of the delivery of
a newly approved mate.  Maybe that will put a bit more zip in his day.
 
One place you can always find color at The Farm whether it is Spring or Fall is on the McCaw's which
hang out near the turtle and swan pond.  I can find almost the whole color wheel on this fellow.
 
The fresh water turtles like this Red-Ear Slider like to hang out on the logs and do this stretchy
balancing act while they doze in the sun trying to warm every possible part.  I remember my
Box Turtle used to stretch out like this when she became comfortable with captivity before she
escaped back into the wild.  Guess she wasn't as comfy with confinement as I thought.
 
One very tiny little fellow, a Red-eared Slider which used to be sold in pet shops, hangs out with the
big guys.  
Thankfully it is now illegal to sell them as pets.  Too many times they are released into
the wild
after owners tire of them, where they were not native and they interbreed with the native
Yellow Bellied Turtles to the
detriment of both species.  Their connection with spreading salmonella
helped put a stop to their exploitation.
 
A bit of Fall is floating on the surface accenting and repeating the shape of this Red Ear's spots.
 
One year round bloomer we also have is the Hibiscus.  Although frost bitten last year mine have quickly
rebounded back to shoulder height.  Some things don't grow here that I was used to having.  
I still laugh
about the lady who told me I could indeed grow the
Bearded Iris here.  I could buy bags of ice to go
around them when we had cool spells, fooling them into thinking it was winter.  I don't think so. 
No,
 I'd rather
spend that time watching my Hibiscus bloom, fishing, turtling, or hanging out with squirrels.
 
An unexpected visitor was by my back door yesterday morning at the gallery.  This very large Tree
Frog was napping on the handrail after a busy night of eating bugs drawn in by the porch light.
I leave the light on for my Canopy Moon neighbors in back.  In true Tree Frog form he had changed
color to more match the wall.  He was so large that except for his shape I might have thought he was
a toad.In the wild we all adjust or we don't survive.

Here is hoping the downtown merchants are able to adjust

to the wild ride we are all on with this unstable economy.  I challenge you to all try to do your part
and do your shopping locally during the coming season.  Money spent here stays here and protects
the smaller shop owners in our little town enabling survival of this charming place it which we live. 
 
 
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