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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)


A Shelly update:  We were very concerned about our young adoptee, Shelly.  We had not seen her in about 2 1/2 weeks.  I had walked down the street trying to get her attention, called several times a day for days and days but no Shelly.  We had about given up.  A few nights ago I saw a squirrel out on the feeder which is not unusual.  I went out just to check and it was indeed our girl very hungry for some pecans.  It took Bruce three trips back into the house to crack enough nuts to fill her up.  We were thrilled to know that she was OK.  We think she has moved her family because a feral cat has been hanging out back in the area and I even once found the bad cat up in the tree next to where her nest is located.  Anyway Shelly is fine much to our relief.  She returned tonight to get another nut fix and I noticed that her ear has sustained a slight tear in the edge.  I wonder what story she could tell me about that if she could talk.
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Saturday Night is Art Walk is this weekend and I have some of Billie McCray's Birds.  I have the birds she handmakes, each unique, and they have been selling fast.  Billie is planning a move to Alabama where she grew up and I may not be able to get anymore as she wants to "take what she has left with her".  I only have 8 of the original 17 I received from her left,soooo it is first come first served.  Great collectables and gifts at only $25. 

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Winding Down the 2010 Turtle Season
 
Another workshop and another wonderful artist.  This one was a young New Mexico artist who transplanted herself to New York City to take advantage of all the wonderful art museums, allowing her to observe the masters' art work up close and personal so that she can learn more about the classical style in which she works.
Leah Lopez teaches at the New York Academy of Art, which is quite an accomplishment for such a young lady, but then she is quite an accomplished artist herself.  Of course living in the heart of NYC, and then staying in a hotel right next to the beach here, was a treat for her to experience, -especially since originally she was a "desert rat". 
 
I had a report from a friend telling me that someone had found a Leatherback Sea Turtle on the beach.  She said it was really struggling and she didn't think it would make it.  I decided to go investigate dragging our guest artist, Leah, along on the adventure.  We did not find any signs of a Leatherback.  A Leatherback is so huge that I felt we could to see tracks in the Full Moon's light.  Next morning I asked my friend if she had any pictures of what she had seen, she sent her Iphone photos and the poor turtle that some well meaning but uninformed "Yahoo" had decreed was "definitely a Leatherback Turtle" was a Gopher Tortoise.  He had spoken with such authority that he had convinced my local living friend he must be right.  Poor tortoise was certainly not going to make it without any flippers.  THEY DON'T SWIM.  Claws are of little value in the surf!  It happens all the time because they live in the dunes next to the beach.  I read the other day how so many of today's people, especially children, have superficial techie knowledge, but no knowledge of nature.
 
It has been a beautiful week of beach weather with the cooler temperatures of Fall finally arriving.  It means we can open the doors and windows, turn off the expensive air conditioner, sleep with the windows open and even need to pull a light blanket up when the early morning temps dip into the 50's.  These are the times we live for down here.  We enjoy our long Fall and Spring weather.  There are lots of birds on the beach of many varieties, and they too sense that colder days are looming.
 
I was very thrilled to find, outside on my back patio, on one of my little corner Goldfish pond's plant, these two beauties taking their morning siesta the other day after my turtle patrol.  These little frogs exactly match the color of the plant on which they are napping.  I have seen 3 in a couple of days and am happy to have them because I had been missing seeing them around this time last year.  Frogs tell me my backyard world is a healthy place.
 
I caught this bloom on the fading end of its splendid show.  When it is at its peak it looks like a giant Sea Star, even the color.  It is about the size of my hand, to help you realize the dimensions.  It is a very unusual plant that I brought with me from North Georgia and it has done very well here, even wintering over outside.  It is a succulent so it does not need much care.  When it blooms I suspect that it is a carnivore because it smells as bad as it is pretty.  It attracts flies who think it is spoiled meat and part of why it is away from my patio, lovely to look at, but not anything you would want in a corsage.. 
 
Sunrises happen later and later, as it is now very dark when I leave the house for turtle patrol.  I can now catch some pretty impressive skies in the morning if I don't dilly-dally too much.
 
I found this unusual work of art on the beach the other day, and made this study before I tossed it into the trash bucket which we always have on the buggy, (I do trash duty as I cruise the beach).  Can you guess what it really is?  Could it be an animal's eyeball reflecting the sun?  Is that a purple ribbon tied in the hair? A hint.  I find them on the beach almost daily where they have been lost in the surf or dropped overboard from cruise ships offshore.  It is a pair of sunglasses with the irridescent lenses broken and entangled in ocean junk like ballon ribbons and natural sea things.
 
We did have some welcome rain and cloudy weather at the onset of the cooler weather.  It had rained heavily during the night and I could hear the wind blowing hard but once the front moved through the heat wave we had been experiencing gave way to cooler more comfortable days and much cooler nights.  I swore after last winter's cold temperatures you would not hear me complain about the hot weather and I don't think I have.  I can cool off when it is hot but I can never get warm enough when it is cold.
 
My treasure of the week was this big chunk of natural sponge I found on the beach.  Look at the remains of sea foam that left a lacy residue at its base, and the bit of some coral skeleton up higher on the right of the photo; still attached where it had been using the sponge as a host until the sponge was uprooted probably by a storm and washed onto our shore from who knows where.
 
With the cloudy overcast weather this lovely lady spreads her skirts and tiptoes through the Cumberland Sound in its search for Sea Nymphs.  It is very appropriate that I see this as I just started a book called Last Light Over Carolina written by Mary Alice Monroe, a New York Times best selling author, and fellow Turtle Lady who lives in South Carolina.  Last Light Over Carolina is about the hard time Shrimpers find themselves trying to survive.  I am just starting the book and don't know where it will lead.  I only know that the main character is a shrimper and in the book he is preparing to go out for what he thinks will be only a short run.  I'll soon know if that turns into a much more adventurous excursion like Gilligan's Island which was supposed to be a 3 hour tour that turned out much more dangerous.  Mary Alice says they are talking to Kevin Costner about turning this book into a movie.  
 
More pretty sunrises as the shore line becomes a brightly colored ribbon laying on the sand.
 
Lots of Horseshoe Crab shells washing in on the beach.  This seems to be a regular happening in Fall.  I believe, hopefully that mostly these are whole and pieces of molted shell and are like this one just that is just an empty shed outer skin of a Horseshoe Crab and not a dead one.  This one I am taking to the gallery for show and tell when children come into the gallery.  These critters shed their outer skin just like my spider did earlier.  The whole front of the shell around the edge which joins the top and bottom is like a door allowing the soft new crab to shed his too small house for a larger more accommodating one.  This is the shell of a young female.  Do you remember how to tell?? Claws are all the same shape for a female unlike the male which has a large hook like front claw.  "Better to hold you with my dear".
 
A pair of Ospreys put on an aerobatic show for me Friday as I sat and envied their soaring and gliding ability...sometimes synchronized....
 
...sometimes doing their own individual flight pattern in the free form part of their routine.
 
After a lifetime of pets I am now down to, with the exception of Shelly, this fish.  He is not alone in his tank, with guppies for company, and a Plecostomus to clean the tank, but they are there to just accent and improve the livability of his 20 gallon home.  This fish is older than a lot of you, pushing toward 25 years.  He has endured the blizzard of 1992 in North West Georgia with no power for 4 or more days and frigid temperatures,  he endured moving to Florida in a tank only half full of water for the 8 hour drive, he has outlived his mate by about 23 years, and we just take it for granted that he will outlive us both.  I thought the other night as I was feeding him that I had never named or photographed him so thought I should do that because you just never know with a fish.  One day they are fine the next they are doing the upside down belly float.
 
It is Monday and we are now caught back up to current time.  Kenneth my ever faithful fishing friend, who is always out mornings, is trying his luck again.  Sometimes its just the two of us on the beach mornings when I made my rounds.  Wearing my down vest for the first time this year with a very cutting wind blowing off the water I made my way around the receding tide to check on my last three nests.  One had hatched yesterday (Sunday), and one which we never did see emerge was excavated this morning.  That only leaves me with one unhatched nest, the late laying Green Turtle nest.
 
As the sun rises I reflect on what a great Turtle Summer we had.  We have had a record 201 turtle nests on the island this year.  We have had 3 different species laying nests on our island.  We had 3 Green turtle nests in the Park, where I patrol, for the first time since I have been doing Turtle patrol.  Now except for keeping watch over the one unhatched Green , #19, it is almost finished.  Each nest has been different.  Not very many photos of hatchlings this year as they have been hatching so successfully that they were all getting out not leaving stragglers as in year's past.
 
The large flock of birds hit the sky as I round the point to access the ocean side of my ride.  Such a joy to be able to experience these sights 3 mornings a week.  The nest I had excavated this morning was not as dire as we had expected.  It had been a very large nest with over a hundred eggs but only 11 had made it out.  Most had been unable to get out of the eggs because of the great amount of "wash-over" it had experienced.  But we were happy to know any had made it out, with the possibility that not a single one might have made it.
 
On the river side I was surprised by this little drama.  Some more late nesting.  This pair of Horseshoe Crabs was attempting to make it back into the water after a frisky early morning rendezvous.  The large female had almost made it back to the water but was very tired and not sure if she could get there.  The tide was heading out away from her so every progress she made was offset by the edge of the water moving even further away. 
 
She seemed quite mature with barnacles almost encrusting the back of her shell even her tail.  I do believe she was a "Cougar" though after seeing the young fellow in her company.
 
Now the young male had obviously taken a wrong turn in his return trip giving credence to the belief that a man will not ask directions even when he is up to his eyeballs in a sand pit of his own making.  Firmly stuck in the sand he could only move the tail at this point.  I interceded and carried the Missus out to deeper water where her buoyancy was better and then dug out the firmly entrenched Mr. who was quite happy to leave her in his dust once he got his footing again.  
I will certainly miss my mornings out here.  For the rest of the season I will just take my mornings to walk out from the boardwalk on my designated days and check the one remaining nest watching to report any disturbance to it and any signs of hatching.  I do look forward to mornings that I can sleep a bit later.

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