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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
Amelia Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)

Day 60 in the countdown to the last turtle hatching.  Expected emergence will be closer to 65 but am keeping a daily check as the countdown continues.  The temperatures have continued to be warm this week which is good.  Cross your fingers that this can continue until emergence day.  Water temperatures are still in the lower 70's so good to go there.
Back home again I am into the middle of the change of seasons here.  It is Fall now with blasts of cold air that makes us think at times we are flirting with a hint at winter.  We went from air-conditioning to turning on the heat in a matter of days.  Of course there are periods of moderation in between where we know for sure why we live where we do.
These near record breaking cold days, though, have at least made me realize that it is getting close to Christmas time and I need to get my one load of fused glass Christmas trees in the kiln or they will need to have Easter Eggs glued on them.  One of my favorite plants this time of year, both the wild variety and the taller tame ones, is the cotton candy colored Muhley Grass as it catches the breezes along side the walkway to the beach.
I have been taking photos of our very-last-on-the-island Sea Turtle nest as I check it to see if there are any changes.  The deep cavity she left when she slung sand to cover her eggs has about filled in with drifting sand.  A tragedy with the Amelia Island Sea Turtle volunteers is that their last nest emergence happened over the weekend.  Their Green Turtle had laid her nest almost two weeks before ours; it was South of the Park, outside my jurisdiction.  It may have been this same Sea Turtle.  That nest emerged last Friday night with temperatures into the upper 30's and it was much too cold for those tiny babies.  Their mode of emerging is to cluster at the top of the nest until the whole crew works its way up enough for them to all head out together.  Sometimes this process takes an hour or more.  Unfortunately the temperatures were too cold for them to survive and after all that work they died before they could actually emerge.  The few that did get out died in their tracks as they tried to get to the water.  The volunteers were able to save only about 20 of the more than 100 remaining hatchlings.
I don't like to see these raccoon tracks on top of the nest.  We don't have much of a problem with raccoon's getting into the nests but they are very smart creatures and would probably be able to pass on the info, I'm sure, to their brothers in crime if they ever learned the secret of what a treasure trove of goodies lies beneath the sand.   
My new mode of beach patrol has taken on the form of a morning exercise program, nest check, and treasure hunt these days. I find some pretty colors, and although actually only very small, can be blown up with the computer.  I also find a few sharks teeth, two today.
With the cold fronts comes the wind which so far has not caused us any kind of beach erosion.  It is interesting to see the power of the wind and how it can quickly change the landscape of the beach as it moves the tiny sand particles around, erasing all signs of human existence from its shores.  This cockle shell was almost covered by the blowing sand from the night before.
Such beautiful patterns are left by the work of the tide along with the wind especially if you can catch it with the light just right.
I am teaching myself about fishing along with my fishing buddy Fran.  So far our success has been fleeting but I have learned the Ocean catfish are delicious contrary to what I had been told.  I am also learning to find my own bait for different kinds of fish.  I am learning about using a casting net.  I have found a place where I can catch fiddler crabs by grabbing them before they have time to disappear into their holes as well as catch minnows with a net.  My spot for catching bait is right underneath this snag.  Since it is a mucky, smelly job to snag the bait in this little marshy area I may as well wait on my morning shower until afterward.  However, when I saw these buzzards light on the snag just overhead while I was ankle deep in the muck, I laughed as I thought they had mistaken me for an over ripe carcass, but seeing me still moving around decided it wasn't quite time to pick my bones and they flew away.
More signs of the change in seasons are these pretty, frosted looking berries on one of the plants next to the boardwalk.  This may be the laurel bush, not sure.  Its leaves look a lot like our live Oaks leaves only longer.
Another similar type berry or seed is the Cedar trees fruit.  They are a pretty baby-blue against the dark feathery blue-green the Cedar branches.
With Fall, the morning weather is not always as dependably clear, and often, especially with a weather front, we have finally been getting some much needed rain.  This particular morning it was very overcast but out toward the horizon there was one bright spot of sunlight glistening on the water. 
Always looking for small treasures for the eyes or the pocket I began to see the beautiful pastel colors reflected in the sea foam that the wind had whipped up at the edge of the surf.  I didn't realize until I downloaded them into the computer, that what I had succeeded in doing was a kaleidoscope of self portraits.
This cool crisp morning even the Pelicans were heading South.
But Mr. Willet was belly deep, looking for breakfast.
I was almost startled as I became engrossed in shelling and didn't realize the Sanderling was working for his food almost beside me.  Only when I stopped to take his photo did he move away.  A big change from riding the beach.  He looked like he was walking on a rhinestone blanket.
The beach was very nice even though it was breezy and cool, with a little walking the body warmed up, and by staying close to the edge of the water the blowing sand was only an atmospheric quality and not a bother.  Part of the enjoyable part was that I had it all to myself.
With Fall comes football and the rivalry of two county high schools as Fernandina and Yulee meet in the hometown game for the traditional Homecoming game for the Pirates.  Both bands were in the homecoming parade.  It would be nice to be so young and energetic again but only briefly...too many hormones causing too much upheaval in mood and decision making.  Nice to have the experience that only living life can give.
Being the parade loving town that we are, the next morning offered another parade except this time the honorees were older, our vets of all ages, young men and women too, but mostly the older ones were those we were honoring.  It was a longer parade than the high schoolers and had more of the towns dignitaries.  In the middle is our mayor Susan, and our newest City Councilman Arlene.  The Red Poppy girls were so pretty in their white and red.
All kinds of faces are in this parade but the colors of red, white, and blue are our favorites along with the faces of the old vets.  As the ROTC and the high school band marches by we imagine these older faces when they looked like these youngsters heading off to the different wars, brave and proud to be a soldier or sailor.
One of the vehicular stars of the show belongs to one of our park rangers, Frank, and his wife Samantha.  This Marine Corp truck is in most of the parades and has been proudly restored by Frank who will most likely be your guide if you go through the old Fort at Fort Clinch State Park.  Frank has a wonderful collection of military uniforms.  He has been collecting them since he was 15 years old and knows the story of every soldier, nurse, general, enlisted man or woman whose uniform he keeps in his care.  If you ever need a program about the military Frank is your man.
The Pirates were yelling "fire in the hole" as a warning of the big boom you are about to be jarred with and which signals the end of another Fernandina parade.  It is good to be home and feel a part of all these kinds of celebrations.
(Please take a moment to consider:
These photo-stories have always been offered completely free, to simply share the wonders of nature. Thousands of hours have been poured into them and it has even become necessary to enlist the services of a paid email service to send out the large numbers who now receive them. So, with the current economic situation if you are able to make a small donation to help ensure the continuation of the stories it would be greatly appreciated.)

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