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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)

Finally it has happened; the cold snap has snapped and Spring-like weather has blessed our cold frozen bones.  I know it is all relative, but for us Floridians it has been a cold winter.  The sunlight on the Spanish Moss is such an interesting thing to me.  The glow is seldom ever quite as good in a photograph as it is in person...
...but I keep trying.  It was a special evening ahead.  We had been invited to watch the wonderful old love story of Dr. Zhivago in the equally wonderful home theater created by my husband for some good friends.  A walk to their backyard for a glimpse of Lanceford Creek at high tide was a must.
 
I tried to not spook Mr. Egret but was unsucessful, however I was able to get his leap into space caught in stop action.
 
Not a bad view to inspire an artist needing to get a painting of a marsh finished.
 
A few days later I wandered down to the waterfront to apologize to the sunset for having neglected it too much this year.  I promised that after I finish my tax reports I will do better--like have a real life.
 
When I get home I see Bruce with his back to me standing very still in the back yard near the squirrels feeding tree.  I know instantly that he has company.  I figured it was about time for a new photograph for all to see; our Ms. Shelly doing her usual, eating pecans and peanuts.
 
Her identifying mark now is the small notch in left her ear.  As I was expecting, knowing what I have learned about squirrels, Shelly had for the third time in her young life, disappeared for a couple of weeks.  That usually means that she is the one who is expecting, as in the family way.  During this time period she visits more often, is more relaxed, and lives a few weeks of freedom from responsibility.  She also starts eating lots of good fattening foods as well as hiding many for her future responsibilities as a new mom.
 
An addition on the beach which did not make me that happy to see, is a long dredge pipe stretching the length of the Park's oceanfront.  It is supposed to only take 5 weeks to finish the dredge job with all of the sand deposited South of the park but must be piped in via our beach.
 
Last week was full moon week so we made it a point to join friends and sit out on the deck at Sandy Bottoms Restaurant to enjoy watching it come up from below the horizon.  Not a great photo but with the low haze the color was pretty and orange.
 
Climbing higher we began to enjoy orange sprarkles on the water also.
 
As it gained height it became the more silvery moon now painting the water with a much broader stroke.
 
Lewis Lizzard is still with us and has moved into a 10 gallon aquarium.  We were advised by a friend who does rehabbing that we should keep him inside until we are sure that it will stay warm and not just what might be a fleeting warm spell.  He really wants out and stays in the end of the terrarium next to the window, wishing greatly that he could get his life back to normal.  He does seem pretty content as he stays bright green most of the time now.  It is very important that he get enough UV light so I raise the blind in the day time even opening the window so the light is more direct as well as keep a lamp on him during daytime.
 
Outside everyone living in and around the backyard seems to be waking up to the signs of spring and nest building.  This young lady seems to be thinking seriously about building her nest in the Jasmine trellis and screen alongside the patio.  We wish it were Shelly instead.
 
This Carolina Wren was trying to decide whether to build his nest in the same area.  He sang and sang even though his mouth was full of nesting material.  I have been told that the male will build several nest sites and then let his lady help choose the one she wants.  Such a thoughtful little fellow. 
 
This cute little Tree Frog isn't quite sure that it is warm enough for him to awaken as he just kind of peeps at me then closes his eyes again.  He is sitting on the front porch area of my house.  He blended in so well with the leaf I almost didn't see him.
 
This hedge type plant, of which I do not know the name, was a surprise as I never knew it had this fruit like seed.  It felt soft like ripe fruit and I wondered how it would taste but did not have the nerve to try it.  Maybe I will though. 
 
My Cape Cod friend Anne, with roots deeply sprouting straight from Tennesse, who used to enjoy lots of adventures with me, took me on a, 'new for me hike'.  These days it seems our schedules seem to prevent us from doing as much while she is here.  One of her favorite walking trails is in Fort Clinch State Park but I had never hiked it.  She is saying "this is one of my favorite parts" as the trail wound up what used to be a dune in days gone by.
 
The trail winds along only a short distance from the road but gives the feeling you are deep in the woods of a forest.  The wind was blowing causing the Spanish Moss to sway and swing in front of us.
 
We took time to find some new things as we use our artists' eyes to be aware of patterns and interesting formations on the trees.  We decide this must be a gall of giantic proportions on this tree.  There were several very old Southern Magnolias along the trail, with Yupon shrubs, an American Holly, Live Oaks of course, lots of Palmettos, and Palms.  There were also many wild Bay trees trying to resurrect themselves from the roots after almost being destroyed by that invasive bug which attacked them a few years ago.  We are "rooting" for their ability to survive, unlike the Chestnuts trees which used to fill the forests of old which also tried, but unsuccessfully, to regrow from their roots.  Each time they were always knocked back down before they could have a chance to grow.
 
Nothing here is quite as beautiful in the sun,especially to an artist, as Palmetto leaves as the patterns play across their angular surfaces letting the light make magic as it filters through the rich and waxy green of their fronds.
 
I first noticed this lovey pink Lichen when I was on Cumberland Island.  It is almost the color of the Roseate Spoonbills.
 
There is beauty even in death.    These beautiful patterns are all that is left of an Armadillo that once rooted its way around the forest floor looking for grubs on which to dine.   If you have never heard of Go-Go Ferguson then I will tell you.  She is a wonderfully talented jewelry artist who takes things like this beautifully patterned shell, casts it in silver and creates some very collectable jewelry.  She lives on Cumberland Island (and other places) and her jewerly is cast from molds she makes from these and other of the life forms (collected in their dead forms) from the island.  Her Armadillo Shell and Rattlesnake Rib brackets, as well as her Racoon "Pecker" Earrings are well known and worn by many.  She designed the wedding rings for John Kennedy and his bride when they were married on Cumberland.  Her beautiful little Sea Star necklaces were chosen as gifts for the G-8 wives when the G-A Conference met on St. Simons Island a few years ago.
 
We also found a live version of the Armadillo making its way through the undergrowth.   They don't hear or see very well so probably never saw what was most likely a Bobcat which decided on a different menu for his dinner.  I never realized that the armor was quite as hard as it was until I was able to touch the pieces we found.  Usually an Armadillo will roll up into a ball and be pretty safe but there is that soft underside that is alway vulnerable.
 
Another day another short adventure as a friend happened to mention that there was a Bald Eagle's nest in his neighborhood.  My ears perked up and my mouth immediately voiced my desire to see this.  We are experiencing our first Bald Eagle nest in modern times here on the island and I wanted to see for myself.  I have spotted a few of the adults around the island and knew they were nesting somewhere.  Although the adults did not show up we did get to watch the kids as they are almost grown to fledgling size.  We believe there are 3 chicks.  This fellow moved into and out of the nest a couple of times while we were there.  Although it seemed as if he were ignoring us, once we enlarged the photos we could see that he was actually watching us pretty closely.
 
The nest was very high up in the top of a large pine tree, where I am told is a favorite nesting site.  They have a very large nest.  The wings of the chicks were also very large when they spread them to balance moving in and out of the nest and to flex them in preparation for the time when they will be flying on their own.  I understand the Southern Bald Eagle is smaller then the Northwestern ones.  This was a day to really wish my camera lens would have been stronger.



Shameless plug time! (If you would, indulge me a mention of our other family business.)

Note  that my husband, Bruce, has over twenty years in the custom residential electronics field, and is an independent designer, licensed reseller, and troubleshooter.  
So if you fall into the group of folks who only wish your electronics would perform flawlessly, and up to their potential, give him a call.

Among many areas, the main ones you'll be familiar with are Home Theater, Home Automation, Whole house AV, Computer/Data Security, and Personal Safety.  

His company is Alltech Systems Design and Consulting, 904-261-5115.
http://www.alltech-systems.com


(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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