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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)

The Turtle Trot ran this weekend with over 400 runners, running the complete race for the very first time all on the beach.  One fellow told me he runs in 14 races a year and this is the prettiest T-shirt of them all.

The painting is my favorite so far, but of course I think this every year when it is finished.  It is still on display in the gallery and is waiting on a new home to go to.

T-SHIRTS;  Here is a photo of  the design for the new T-Shirts,

so you can be getting ready to place your order for one.  Some styles come in Natural and some only in White.  Sizes and styles:  There will be regular Men's (or Unisex styles more designed for men or women who like a longer style) and Men's Tanks, Childrens sizes in regular crew neck styles, and Women's sizes (with shorter lengths) in V-Neck, Crew necks, and Tank tops.  $16 - $18 according to styles.  I will get a, (hopefully inter-active), order form e-mailed to you all tomorrow from which you can order, that will clearly show which sizes and color is available in each style.

CARDS:  I also have cards printed up of 3 of the past 6 (including this year's design) and will be getting in the remaining cards very soon so you can buy a complete set of the 6 paintings I have done for the Turtle Trot.  $3.50 each or a set of 6 (one each year) for $18
PRINTS:  I am doing prints matted to fit a standard 18 x 24 frame for $65 signed on photo mat paper which I will print.  Those who would prefer a nicer print on watercolor type paper printed by a professional printer and considered a Giclee those will be $95 unmatted.  

 When we woke up last Monday the weather news was surprising and alarming.  A hurricane named Irene was headed up the East Coast of Florida and it looked like according to the spaggetti models that my bedroom could be in the "eye" of the storm.  Nothing shakes you up more then the fact that you may have to evacuate leaving your home, belongings, and have to make hard decisions on what to take with you and a short time to prepare.  Terrible situation for two first class procrastinators.  As it turned out by Tuesday it was clearly not going to hit here but it could still mean power outages which would require storing up supplies,enough to sustain one for a few days.  Look out Wal-Mart you are going to be busy.
By Wednesday, it seemed like a good idea to take another day off and "go fishing" with my friend Fran.  We thought the possiblity of the weather changes, barometric pressure and all that stuff, might make the fish hungry.  Wrong.  Fran caught one keeper, and I caught an ugly Toad Fish and another too-small-to-keep fish.  I finally got the hook out of this very toady looking fellow and he "bit" me goodby.  Although his teeth were small they were sharp and could put a "startle" in your awareness.
The storm was about midway up the coast of Florida toward us, well off shore, but we knew by the next day we would be getting some more serious effects from it.  Today though was an absolutely beautiful day with a strong breeze and pure blue skies and equally beautiful puffy clouds.  The Osprey from her nearby perch rode the currents above us, as I tried to balance between taking pictures and grabbing the rod when I got a bite which seemed to always happen at the same time.  That could be part of my "low catch" day, but I got some cool photos, (rationale).
Bonnie and Clyde were our ever constant companions.  This set of older Herring Gulls find that waiting on a handout is far easier than diving and hunting the beach for shellfish.  Their patience was rewarded as we had lots of tidbits for them to nibble on until we stopped fishing and gave them the mother lode, enough of our leftover bait to leave them feeling full for a long time.  A few Laughting Gulls also joined into the fray, making you quickly look around to see who the noisy person was with the irritatingly loud laugh standing just behind your back.
Our chosen site was "The Honey Hole" the girl from the week before had recommended.  The surf was much too strong on the ocean side for surf fishing.  The clouds, whether local effects, or from the outer bands of Irene were a wonderful sight.
Take a good look at our beach as we look toward the storm track, because a lot of this part is now under water even at low tide.  A lot of the beach disappeared beneath the high, high tides that would be arriving overnight.
Madam Osprey was the only one of our group to score a good catch as we watch with envy while she tears into her well earned meal.  We had some huge fish jump in front of us which were probably Tarpon.  They were big, as in feet and not inches, if measured.  The dolphins also came almost within touching distance.  Lots of wonderful catches for the eyes and the mind even though all I succeeded in accomplishing was to totally loose 3 fishing rigs, hook line and sinker, by getting snagged on what must be an oyster bed underneath the water near this big post.
By Friday morning Turtle patrol the skies had changed.  The outer bands of Irene were definitely showing up with some bands of rain coming onshore.  I knew when I crossed Eagans Creek to the back of the park and saw how high the tide was I might not be able to make the route for Turtle Patrol.  I had about 30 minutes according to my in-house meteorologist before a band of hard rain would be hitting the island.
This is a picture of the clouds and view toward the Fort as I reached the beach.  Let your eyes flatten the water and keep in mind this photograph was stitched together from several photos.
The wide expanse of beach I had enjoyed the day before had totally disappeared and I knew this was only the beginning of the high water.  I have one turtle nest almost to the point that you can see in the distance.  If I could get close then I could walk on down to check it and then drive in my car to the ocean side to walk in there to check the others most likely in peril.  There was one behind me on top of the escarpment which was high enough to survive if the escarpment itself holds, but that was doubtful.
Using the flat fill sand area I was able to get this far without too much risk of getting stuck in the sand which was becoming softer and softer as I rounded the bend and the water higher and higher.  My feminine ego in a park full of men will not allow me to have to call them and tell them I am stuck in the sand.  I turned the buggy around facing back toward the route I needed to retrace before shutting it off and loosing my forward momentum.  This is minor dune area but now with no real beach left it was beachfront.  I hoofed it the rest of the way.  The nest was still OK, but even though it is overdue, it has shown no signs of hatching.  It is in a sheltered area which doesn't get full sun therefore making it slower to emerge.  By the end of the day it will be underwater.
I had meant to check the front beach where I had two low nests.  One had hatched the day before but according to rules could not be excavating until Sunday.  Right next to that one was the other of the low nests and it was also due to hatch any minute.  By the time I got to the ocean front beach a terrible blinding rain storm hit so I blew it off and drove on out of the park.  After exiting the park I headed toward Main Beach the closest view of the ocean from the car.  I joined the line of other curious residents waiting my turn to snap a photo before another band of rain came in.  Yes the surf was definitely kicking up.
By noon all real threats of downpours seemed to be gone with not that much needed moisture dropped on us.  I closed the gallery for a little while so I could go check out the beach front with the now lower tide.  The surf was rough all the way back with the outside edge of that massive storm visible in the distance as it slowly makes its track to the North.
The nest that had hatched, #22, is now gone and only one stake was left from the other one due to hatch.  The black plastic had held on that one, but #22's was totally gone.  The black screen was to block out the light pollution we are getting from the factory behind the park and Marie had said it worked as all hatchlings seemed to go to the water.  By Sunday there would not be a trace of any of this left with nest 21 and 22 having disappeared beneath the waves.  Although we know the one hatched we will never know about the other one.  The babies should have been hatched but whether they could breathe enough to survive until they were washed out that night or even could have been washed out alive. 
Standing near the low tide the seas are to be only enjoyed by the surfers who had been showing up all day.
But the day itself was beautiful and the sun and clouds so bright that it was a good day for grabbing a photo or two on my way back to work.  Beyond the Palmettos and the marsh overlook you can see the smoke stacks from the paper mill which has recently been bought out by Rock Tenn and seems to be causing me my light problems.  I have a feeling the new owners are not aware of what damage lighting can do to our dark park beach.  I believe they must have installed something new over there which is pulling our sea turtles backward away for the water.  We have never had this problem before.
The clouds behind our lighthouse was worthy of a painter's brush with the very painterly clouds framing it in from the back.
As I left work the clouds were so pretty all billiowing and puffy and the sky so blue I started snapping photos by just holding the camera on the steering wheel and clicking away.  I was afraid they would change too much by the time I could find a good spot to actually focus.
Although I couldn't be high enough to get some of the best the view from 10 Acres Club property, where I wasn't sure I wouldn't be arrested since I am no longer a member, but trespassing is sometimes required to get the best shots.
We were an hour from high tide and the view across Egans Creek to the Tiger Point Marina tells me a story I don't want to know.  The water is now almost covering the marsh grasses.  We were heading to the park for a 6:30 (pm) going-away party for one of our rangers.  Everyone was woofing down their meal and saying quick congratulations to Rhonda so they could all head to the beach somewhere to see the power of the water.  We seldom get to see it this way and although it is fearsome is it also a feat of nature that we don't want to miss.  Such power this usually mild mannered neighbor of ours has.
We chose the pier to witness the beach invasion.  The one nest I though would be totally safe was the one high up on top of an escarpment just to the East of the pier.  Although the sticks and the light barrier were holding it was still being washed over by the high tide and still 30 minutes to the highest part.  (-edited to add;  This nest hatched Saturday, and will be excavated Wednesday)
Curiousity seekers with camera filming the surfers were checking out the usually wide front ocean beach.  All the rest of the nests on the upper end of this beach have already hatched.  It's the ones south of the boardwalk which are in question.  The long stretch of beach looks much much shorter in the photo as the signs at the southern boundary of the park catch the low sun.  Half way down to there are the 6 remaining nests in question.  The water has definitely washed over them all even though 4 of them are pretty high.
The water churned over the jetty which is almost buried underneath the water.  I would not want to be in the area near these rocks now, they would definitely whup-up on you.
But the surfers were having a blast.  They were saying the waves were as good as Hawaii, although I don't think they meant the really big ones over on the Northshore, just the regular ones.  
I'm not sure how much success you could have on one of these big boards in that kind of water.  I visualize this activity where you stand on the board and paddle yourself around to be done in much more placid waters.
The water on the river is well into the dunes and where I usually ride is somewhere in the right bottom corner of this photograph.
In the distance I can see one stake left sticking up in one of our last found nests.  It did hold and we were able to remark it for future reference.  The eggs may be OK as this was a late one as long as they did not stay underwater without oxygen for too long.  I have seen them hatch many times after being washed over.
As we leave the back of the park at high tide the marsh has disappeared and in its place is a wide lake.  It will certainly have received a good cleaning of old dead plants which will find their way onto the beach in the next day or so in the form of wrack to help rebuild the sands washed away.  It is really a miraculous process the way the beach can heal its wounds.  Some people need to learn the lesson that being scared and wounded doesn't have to be permanant.  The sand will rebuild, sometimes with the aid of the renourishment process but mostly by itself it will rebuild during much gentler tides which will carry the sand in and not away.
The sun set over a very exciting and anxious day on the island.  Another day of extremely high tides and we will be back to normal and can access the damage to our bountiful Turtle Season.   We will be happy to say Goodbye to this lady who so roughly breezed by and left her callng card.  Not a nice lady this Irene. 
On Saturday a visit to the Farmer's market brought me home with new butterfly caterpillars to grow and protect.  I stopped by the Nature's Reflections plant booth to see if he had any native milkweek.  He said it had really been in short supply this year.  I think a lot of people have gotten interested like I have in creating a Butterfly friendly garden.  He said, "I just had a lady buy some fennel a while ago because it had some Swallowtail Caterpillars on it."  Of course my ears perked up as I scanned the plants in front of me for the host plant of one of the Swallowtail's to see if I saw any little butterfly starter kits.  He pointed out this small speck of black which looked like Anole droppings, except the white spot that is on the end was in the middle of this little black thing.  I would never have known that was a caterpillar.  As I write, I am sitting watching my three little ones who in a week have almost doubled in size.  I might now be able to get a photo of the little 1/2" black fellows.  New life, new horizons ahead.  WooP!!! as my friend Sabrina is always adding to her emails when something exciting or good happens.  New life, new beauty to help create.

(Please take a moment to consider:
These photo-stories have always been offered completely free, to simply share the wonders of nature, and life on the Island. 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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