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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)
Reconnecting; It can be a good thing!
Catching up is hard to do.  The month of September has been such a busy one.  Labor Day weekend was The Turtle Trot.  With the advantages of the modern world and the aid of Facebook I have recently heard from people I had not seen or heard from in many years.  My old Junior High students found me.  What happened to those young kids?  They are now senior citizens (too)??  Of course I have to realize I was only 8 years older than they were when I was Ms. Art Teacher.  One of my reconnections was with one of the youngsters who started in kindergarten with my oldest son, Eric, and was one of those kids you watched grow up for 12 years.  In elementary school when I was doing the Homeroom Mother role she was one of my favorites.
I find out that being a former member of the high school track team, she is still doing a lot of running.  When she heard about The Turtle Trot and saw the painting growing as I posted it on my Facebook Page she said she wanted to come run in the race.  I invited her to stay at the Hotel Hinton.  Friday of Labor Day weekend I welcomed Ocellia and her son Allen to Amelia Island.  Some of the little ever elusive young runners in the park, of which I keep trying to get a family photograph, is the twin Bambi's up in the area of the park where I hang out in the mornings.  I can get one but the other one always darts into the underbrush and disappears.  I would love to get them together before the spots totally disappear from their coats.
I was able to get some photographs of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly which is a frequent visitor to my yard but had never seen the caterpillar.  I stopped by Ace Hardware with my $5 off coupon and under $2 was able to buy a large Passion Flower, their favorite food, filled with young caterpillars.  The catapiller for this type of butterfly is pretty formidable looking so I decided to go ahead and plant the vine in the yard and watch them, bringing them in when they reached the stage where they would be near turning into the Chrysalis stage.  Sadly by the next day, something had gotten them all because I have not been able to find any remaining.  That is the reason I have been bringing them inside to develop, to ensure their safety.  I checked by Ace to see if maybe I could borrow some of theirs and they had all disappeared also.  Oh well, I will keep the plant healthy and more will come I am sure.
The different species of Butterfly all have their own varied ways of developing.  This beauty which emerged from its Chrysalis stage while I was visiting the knee doc the other day started out very different and changed its form shedding its outer skin about 4 times before going into the green chrysalis stage and hanging from his little safety line like a utility pole lineman.  I have been unable to watch this process as it seems to happen while I am sleeping or am gone.  These are truly beautiful butterflies.  As they finish with the plants I plant them out flower gardens in the yard.  I am determined to provide a welcoming garden for several species of these beautiful creatures.  Somehow that will also include getting rid of some of the tiny skinny waisted wasps which love to eat them. 
With company to entertain, and not wanting them to miss out on anything, my guests and I briefly hit the First Friday Night Sounds on Centre.  It was a great band but we had to be at a Sea Turtle Excavation in just over an hour, but still they got a taste of our home town fun and met some of my local friends as we sat in our chairs and listened for a while.
Then it was on to the beach where my guests were lucky enough to get to actually see this little one who had been stuck in the egg when found.  He did not have the egg sack still attached and so was ready to release immediately, but did have lots of egg yolk gunk stuck on him.
I noticed that Ocellia, here shooting pix of our friend Kenneth and his assistant, had a very nice camera with interchangable lenses and all, but I didn't realize that she had a "real" interest in photography.  If I had known, I might have shown her even more of our scenic spots than I did but as it was I think she got a lot of material.
Although Ken had tried to wash some of the goo from the egg yolk off this little guy it was still pretty coated with the dried yolk and sand.  It will wash off soon in the water, and the little fellow will have a lot of time there for that.  If it is a boy it will remain in the water for the rest of its life.  If a female then it will return in 25 years or so to the same stretch of sand to lay her own eggs.  My bets are that it is a girl since it was pretty close to the top.
I now know how to spot these live Whelks in the edge of the low tide.  I did not think about them being that close to shore.  I won't tell how, because I wouldn't want anyone taking them for their really interesting shells.  One day one of our rangers told someone they couldn't take one of the Whelks she had found because it was still alive.  She said, "Oh it's be alright, I'll just boil it out with bleach".  She just didn't get in duh...
A trip to the Farmer's Market, and I picked up some goodies for cooking over the weekend because I found out one of us was having a birthday on Sunday.  Can't let one of those kind of days so by un-noticed.
On Saturday our friends from Chicago, Nancy and Debra, were in town and were cooking their world-class Paella which they know we love.  Being the great hostesses they are they invited us, including our guests, who had not eaten Paella before.  Half the fun of having Paella is watching it cook.  Each time it is a little bit different as Debra has gotten confident in her Paella-making skills.  Paella was a peasant dish from Spain, and is to them a lot like when I make vegetable soup (I call it my Stone Soup if you remember that kids story) and clean out the fridge of anything that needs to be eaten or whatever I happen to have.  In this case, here is what Debra wanted to add to her basic recipe.  Starting with onions sautéed in Olive Oil then adding tomatoes, artichoke hearts (Debra's idea), some spicy Spanish sausages, chicken, then covering with rice to which a pot of hot chicken broth is added and then allowed to simmer until the rice is cooked.  No stirring; just waiting.
While the pot simmers I go out on their beautiful deck overlooking the marsh to try to catch a few pictures of the wildlife.  I see that the squirrels here are also having a serious bout with "warbles", to the point that it looks like this little guy has even lost part of his tail with several other bad places on his body.  He was a sad looking little fellow.  Even with his lopped off tail though I think "our" most stricken one is even worse looking.  He is so infested that we have been making a special effort to make sure he is nourished for fear he is too weak to fend for himself.
As the light was fading I tried to get the little Marsh Rabbit with the flash, giving him a very unworldly look with that eye reflecting back the light.  We have two types of rabbits the Marsh Rabbits and then the regular run of the mill rabbits down here.  The Marsh rabbits have shorter ears and scragglier fur.
Back inside the screened in Lanai with the rice now tender the fun part begins.  Adding all the good seafood parts,  lobster tails, mussels, then green peas for color (we must have our green veggies), shrimp, roasted peppers for more color and taste, and then the final garnish and flavor lemon wegges stuck in all over the top.  Now just time to let the shrimp and the shellfish cook, which doesn't take long, and we were ready to feast.
The next day I took Ocellia and Allen to one of my favorite photo spots, the tree graveyard on Big Talbot Island.  Our timing was off a bit, but with so little time to show the sights to someone who has never been here, we timed it the best we could.  The tide was coming in, but still, high tide was 3 hours away.  The shore birds were enjoying the water and were grabbing the little critters trapped in the crevices and puddles of the soft sand stone like rocks.
Ocellia had not been able to run in the race because her car had been rear ended as she was stopped at a stop sign a few days before this trip, and with what we now know, received some nerve damage in her shoulder and neck.  Her doctor had given her strict instructions to not run in the race, but she did get her Turtle Trot T-Shirt.  (BTW-Don't forget to order your "Save the Turtles" version of that T-shirt.)  She was moving slowly but was determined that next year she would win her age group, so watch out ladies, - this beautiful 5'11", 43 year old North Georgia/Tennesse girl is coming back, with winning on her mind.
We enjoyed Allen, who was curious and interested in everything.  He and Bruce were into astronomy and the stars, and next year we will have to take the telescope down to the beach for some planet and star gazing.
One thing that makes photography in this place so rewarding is the variety of subjects you find in just one spot.  I found this very black rock wedged into another group, which had all kinds of paler colors offering contrast, but also interesting colors, all shades of lavender, some golds and greens, a great painting subject if it weren't so weird so that no one would know what it was.  It would just have to be interpreted as an abstract.
We were into taking a chance on getting seriously wet as we climbed over and around the trees with the tide rising pretty fast.  Usually when I go, I time it so that you can walk around all these trees above the water level on hard sand.
A shallow pool of mostly muck had attracted several of these very pretty wasps.  More interesting color than I remember seeing with their bright yellow trim and rust colored accents, even some 'burnt sienna' thrown in with the black.
A nice portrait of a former inlander, who for today at least, is a beachcomber extraodinaire.
The Sanderling seemed hypnotized, as we were, by watching the water splash and play all around us.
I loved that the birds were there that day, because this is the first time I have been that aware of them, but with the incoming tide we were forced to share what dry places were left.
On the way out I looked up to see this huge Banana Spider (Golden Orb) over our heads.  We had evidently walked right underneath her on the way in and never saw her.
We went down to Fort George Island, to Kingsley Plantation, and saw some of the Sea Island Cotton Crop growing.  It had been one of their big cash crops in that day in time, thanks to Anna Kingsley's good business head in seeing the value of growing this fine grade of cotton.  The blooms looked a lot like Okra blooms to me.
This is the cotton pod which will open up to reveal the fine cotton ball inside, from which the very desirable Sea Island cotton was made.
The other money crop was Indigo which was made from soaking these plants in vats of water in a couple of stages.  The instructions were written down as well as examples of the vats so you could see how the process took place.  The Indigo dye which was produced was worth a great deal of money.  Allen and I were quite interested in wondering just how they found out that stale urine added to the mix greatly speeded up the process.  My theory was that someone was angry at the overseer and as an act of passive agression added urine that first time.  A similar reason I don't ever send back food to the kitchen in an unknown restaurant if something is wrong with it.  I don't like to entertain the thoughts of what revenge might be wreaked upon my hamburger!
I don't know what this plant is but it was a favorite of the hummingbirds and the butterflies.  Did you see the hummer drinking from it??
A surprise birthday cake for the birthday girl.  It was fun to connect with an old friend who is all grown up now.  My son says his first memory of Ocellia was in Kindergarten, because she was the first one in class that could make the number 8.  She is still at the top of her class and has gone on to become an Occupational Therapist, with a passion for photography.  I don't know if being a therapist has helped her be patient in her own recovery though.  Her attitude is good, and all her girlfriends are wearing scarves to help her get through her time of wearing a neck brace.  Let's hope she finds Amelia Island such a fun and welcoming place to buy that retirement home.  I told her the winters were too cold up in North Carolina where she had been looking.  Look out for her next year when Turtle Trot comes up gain; she is coming back to collect more than just a T-Shirt.

(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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