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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)
Painting Update, and some glass things...

The Koi painting is still making progress as I continue to add color and begin to get the whole canvas covered with paint.  The fish have evolved from being just a pond with Koi to a pond that has Koi which have become Koi portraits of the customers pond.  This has been interesting to use real fish as my models.

In my spare time I have managed to get a load of my fused glass done.  I tried for several Sea Turtles since I was out of them.  I also have some very cute fish done which I did not get photographed.  The smaller Sea Turtles would be great hanging on a tree or just as light catchers.  I am still mulling over the possibilities of some actual mobiles which would be free hanging and could be suspended from the ceiling.  I just can't seem to ever find the proper wire to do this with since they stopped making the wire clothes hangers which worked so well for this.  Suggestions anyone???

 Story Time
In a distant past, (about a month ago), that seems like only yesterday, I got the opportunity to take a special voyage to a place I hold most dear to my heart.  My finding Cumberland Island and the natural wonders which existed there, led to my discovery of Amelia Island just next door, resulting in a truly life changing event for us.   One of my friends, Lynne, called me one busy afternoon at the gallery and said "I have a ticket to Cumberland Island tomorrow but I can't use it.  Would you like to take it?"  Thinking that it was one of the day trips from St. Mary's on the Park Service Ferry, I politely declined because my knee would not hold up to the amount of walking that trip would require.  Later that evening I got a note from Dickie Anderson who does the "High Tide Women's Weekends", saying how nice it was that Lynne thought of me first to take her place.  The "light bulb" finally lit up in my brain and I realized that this year Dickie was highlighting the National Parks in the area and this was no ordinary trip to Cumberland Island.  With shaking hands I grabbed the phone, praying I was not too late, and called Lynne, apologizing if I had awakened her, and asked if the trip was still available.  YES, YES, I WANT TO GO!!!
Lynne had feared rain and the heat since she is still recouping from a recent bout with some health issues.  The morning started out to be beautiful as I showed up early, not wanting to miss the boat, with my pack, my new orthopedic inserts in my walking shoes, and raring to go.  The recent rains had mushrooms growing galore all over the island and these were the first thing I saw as I walked toward the docks.  In the early morning light I could not pass them up without a few shots to start off the day.  It was a 70's flashback when mushrooms were a big subject for me to paint.  I'm sure there are still many of  my mushroom paintings hanging on walls in the Chattanooga area.  That was the time when framing in barn wood, reading Foxfire, and Adele Davis's dietary books (who lost favor when she died of cancer) which all told us how to live simply, eat healthy, and be environmentally friendly, the new hot ticket in living.  The dawning of the Green age; and you thought Al Gore invented it...
A perfect morning to climb aboard a boat and go on a very excellent adventure.  It was so calm it was almost as if I wasn't sure which was the upside of the photograph as I looked back toward the street on which my gallery sits and thought how great to just walk away for a day.  [Thank you to Lynne and to Bruce for making it possible.]  I whiled away the time waiting for the official Cumberland Island Park Service Ferry to show up at OUR dock,  enjoying the reflections through the camera's lens. 
It was indeed a perfect morning for a cruise.  I suppose Gilligan thought the same thing when he set sail for that short cruise that ran through many seasons.  Although Cumberland Island is just a short distance as the boat sails and the crow flies it usually seems much further away since actual landing on the island means a trip to St. Marys and making reservations on the Park Service Ferry or spending the big bucks to go with Greyfield Inn which leaves from our island.
It was almost too calm as the water became a perfect mirror and I like the abstract in the water not realism.  Come on now, give me a wave or two.
Finally a boat came by and gave me some interesting images to capture.  Some day I will have an exhibit of all the wonderful things I see in the water.
With lots of bigwigs from Washington with Park Service affiliations on board and with women who had come from near and far for this trip, most were eager for a top side view as we left the harbor.  Dickie had outdone herself in arranging this great one of a kind event.  So thankful was I, to be able to be on board.  My yellow pack and camera bag sit in the foreground.  I should not have bothered.  Every thing was provided from water to a pack in which to carry our "stuff".
At that time of the morning there were many of the wild horses of Cumberland Island out along the grassy beach areas, as we paralleled the shoreline.
Our first stop was Dungeness, the home of Lucy Carnegie and her family, previously owned by and the home of the Phineas Greene's.  We strolled with the very informative Park Ranger down Coleman Avenue as we listened to the stories of the people who had lived here from the knowledgeable park ranger.  The canopy of Live Oak Trees and Spanish Moss fills you with expectations of what might have awaited you beyond the turn in the road as you traveled once upon a time in Miss Lucy's carriage as her guest.
Lots of wild turkeys were scattering as we interrupted their quiet morning of dining on the lawn bugs.
I had forgotten where this wonderful old fountain was, while on a previous trip and was determined to not miss it this time.  It was located on the backside of the oldest remaining building on the island, a nice tabby built by the Greene's who had built the first Dungeness.  This building had housed the tutors for the children who lived at Dungeness.  It had also served as an office for the tutor who stayed on to be Miss Lucy's right hand man after her husband died fairly early in life.
In the museum at the dock, which is actually the old Ice House for the estate, you can see the pictures of the mansion when it was a real live home.  It is impressive now but must have been a true wonder for its time.  The Carnegies had the latest in technology, and when only 7% of the country had electricity, they were generating their own here in their private island paradise.
Since there was so much to do it was time to re-board the boat much too soon, but we had a lunch date with the folks at Greyfield Inn.  It was not something anyone wanted to miss, either, as walking around the ruins, we had worked up an appetite.  This horse was enjoying a morning brunch of Spanish Moss, which it was harvesting off a downed tree.  A glimpse into part of their diet on the island.
These two were grazing on the sparse grass found growing on the sand flat.  I loved the twisty gnarly branch forms from the trees which have been uprooted by the eroding shoreline.
This was my favorite of the horses I saw.  Such a pretty pattern.  The horses through the years have mixed with those from the all the families who lived there.  My friend Cindy who lived here, and whose grandmother was Lucy Carnegie, can tell you whose horses influenced some of the colors especially the ones with the white blazes on their faces.  Sometimes a horse just gets through the fence and spreads his charms around the whole island.
A tour of the main floor of the house, now Greyfield Inn, which was given to the daughter, Lucy, as a gift.  The library here is filled with rare first edition books, some signed, which you are free as a guest to browse through.  The lunch was substantial and pleasant as the whole group assembled to chat, get acquainted, and pose for a group photo.  That's me with the red shirt, hat and water bottle in her hand sitting on the first step underneath the rather large flower pot on the right.
We had 20 minutes to go until the boat would leave us but I just had to walk with a few hardier souls to get a glimpse of the beach I had for so long loved.  This is the Main Road, which goes from end to end on the island and which I have hiked many times with my backpack loaded with a weeks worth of food on my back, and then later on my old three wheeler with Bruce once we found a cottage we could rent.  I stood remembering that first walk on my very first trip as four of us, 3 women friends and one male, when the sounds of the Armadillos would startle us as they rattled the stiff Palmetto fronds scurrying away when we passed by.  We couldn't see them and was not sure what was making the noise.
My knee was reminding me that I still had to walk back, and it was quickly nearing departure time.  Thankfully a fellow came along in one of the golf cart vehicles from Greyfield and I was relieved and thankful to accept a ride on his chariot right to the dock.  Yea, saved the knee for another time.
The next stop on the tour was Plum Orchard behind which we had found our little Pink Cottage retreat and left the tent camping behind.  Since it is about 7 miles up the island I don't often get the chance to revisit.  On the way we had to retrace our path a good bit to be able to access the river channel, with the large ferry   The channel took us very close to the Kings Bay Nuclear Submarine base.  The large tall structure on the top left photo is a gizmo (very technical words so don't get overwhelmed) through which the subs pass through on their return to discharge the static electricity that has built up on the outside of the vessel due to the friction of the high speed with which they travel through the water.  They have to do this so they don't create a spark when they refuel.  As luck would have it on such a perfect day a sub was in port.  Of course we also were being evaluated, but  as a result, able to get up close and personal with the gun boat which was guarding the base.
Plum Orchard was the largest of the homes Lucy built for her children.  They were all given the choice of a house or cash, with most of the girls opting to take the money and run.  This is one of the most beautiful, which the daughter-in-law added another wing onto, after it was built, needing more space, -for just the two of them and staff of course.  It has over 100 rooms although I was not sure what was considered a room.  I think the count had to have included closets and hallways as rooms, because it doesn't seem that big to me.  Of course it has an attic with living quarters for some of the staff which we were not able to see.  That means 4 floors of rooms including the large and cavernous basement which we were also privileged to explore.  There was an area the size of a room just to accommodate the motors for the refrigerator which was in the adjoining area.  Things were not so compact in the early days of electrical technology. 
Because they could afford to do so it was tastefully furnished with fine furnishings and elegant touches like Tiffany Lamps and hand painted/stenciled wallpapers everywhere.  To me the warmest part of the house was this cozy fireplace which you stepped down into, located in the foyer area,  It would have been very warm and cozy with a roaring fire on those cool damp winter days.  Great touches like wood paneling in the Gun Room to give it a very masculine touch with billiard tables, a baby grand, and built in gun cabinets along with the tortoise shell Tiffany lamps in the picture above.  A great place to hang out at the end of a hard day hunting and prowling the beaches.  Even an elevator with hydraulic lift which later came in handy as the Carnegie son developed a muscle condition which left him in a wheelchair.  What had been a luxury became a necessity for navigating to the upstairs bedroom area.

The only time I have seen a horse in this condition on the island.  The Park Service lets the horses remain on the island on the condition that they do not have to do anything to keep them going.  This means if they get sick they do not help.  Sometimes a stallion will loose his place as head of the herd and is exiled.  He will then soon die of loneliness and this could be the case here. 
There is a fresh water pond just behind the house, which I had remembered always had lots of birds.  That was back when I didn't know the names of our birds.  The tree was filled with lots of very skittish Great Whites, White Ibis (young ones still brown). a Green Heron, some baby Alligators, and mosquitoes the size of birds and ticks to boot which took their toll on me and I did not stay long.  It was pretty grown up and one of the longest snakes I have ever seen in the wild had run into this pond on an earlier trip back in the old days.  I like snakes but I didn't want to prowl around in their house uninvited.  Water snakes are noted to not be real friendly to such intrusions.
It came time for us to turn homeward.  I usually do not feel our paper mills pollute the air but from this distance I am rethinking my stand on this.  True we do not get the smells on the island associated with papermills of earlier times, but when I saw the clear pristine skies from this distance and the plume of low lying yellowish haze spreading to the Southwest from Rayonier and gray smoke coming directly on the North end from the Rock Tenn plant I was very disheartened.  I don't think they were both just having a bad day.  Now come on folks, even if your pollution doesn't stay on our island, it's still going out there.  Let's clean up our act!!!  Even on cloudy days...
The Marshes were at their prettiest green and the horses were enjoying it as if they had been turned out into a new pasture.
Only a few of us still headed for the upper deck on the journey back home.  There was wine and treats inside the cabin underneath and some very tired ladies to enjoy it.  The trip was exhausting but wonderful at the same time.  None of the buildings we toured had the new fangled air conditioning so perspiration had taken its toll zapping our energy.  As we rehydrated only a few rain drops added to the mix from the gray clouds overhead.  All around were the perfectly beautiful billowing clouds I love.  I took many photographs of them that day.  The next day one of my other friends from Jacksonville who had gone on the trip came to say she was disappointed that I had not made it to the mixer and fashion show later that night.  I said, "are you kidding?  I was sound asleep by 8 o'clock."  Am I getting old?
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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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