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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)

Look what snowbirds just flew in from parts North!!!

Saturday evening will be the next in the lineup of Artrageous Art Walks.  North Carolina artist Jonathan Bowling has just brought in a large number of pieces, several of which have already swam, (being fish), out the door.  He also brought a large selection of birds and a large butterfly sculpture, just in case someone needs a yard ornament for their butterfly garden. 

The Gulf Fritillary had finally turned into a very ugly Chrysalis looking like something which should be a piece of bark on the side of a tree.

Looking like half caterpillar, half cocoon we were not sure what to expect of its outcome.

One peculiarity was that it would be swung to the left at one time of the day then to the right at the opposite end of the day.  You never saw the movement but it just happened every day.  I did research and found that this is what they do.  It was such a slowwww developer though, that I wondered if it will be normal in the end.

I saw this unusual tag on my way home from the gallery just before my family came for their visit.  I thought there had been some serious hurt and bitterness to inspire this response.  If you can't read it all the bottom footnote says (in addition to the tag which says BTRAYED) " AND... I GOT IT ALL!!!".  Be careful when you mess with a woman she may turn around and bite you.

I managed a quick walk with my friend Anne, who is back from Cape Cod for her snowbird visit.  The evening before my family's arrival, we took a few minutes to just walk on the beach and catch up.  The sun was setting low and the many beach patterns were catching that last glow.

As I reached the parking lot to head on home, with the sliver of the moon as our witness,  Anne and I resolved to not let her visit this year be spent with each of us being too busy to work in our together time.  We will plan ahead and set up some dates for doing some things together, maybe bike riding, which will be easier on my knee.  I would hate for her to have to carry me back if I couldn't make it on a long trek into the wilderness...not that we are ever that far from civilization here.

Although the family arrived in Jacksonville on Friday night, I had already committed to a speaking engagement with a group of Presbyterian ladies visiting Amelia Island, so it would be late Saturday afternoon before I could take the ferry over, and finally get to be part of the reunion.  Good thing the birds can't read, they certainly will be breaking all the rules as they sit on the ferry pilings doing both, trespassing and fishing.

I met the rest of the crew at a restaurant on the Intra Coastal Waterway, overlooking the water view underneath the bridge as the sun set behind the horizon. 

Inside our small dining room space, I tried for a family portrait with my seat empty of course, -someone has to (wo)man the camera, and although I managed to crop out much of Nicki, I did get the rest of the crew.  Helen, Mom, Susan, and a family friend Charlie; Mike, Denise and the bi-sected Nicki. 

With a Low Country Boil on the menu the next night, my regular shrimp man was nowhere to be found and I had to opt for Mayport Shrimp instead of Fernandina ones.  Of course this week there was no fresh corn at the Farmers Market, but Strawberries from Jane and Tommy of King's Farm Produce, were in abundance, fresh from their own patch.  They can't be beat, and we ate many of them as snacks that night straight from the box.  They are located toward the back of the Farmer's Market in case you are in need of berries while they are in season.  This time it would be Mom drafted to make the biscuit shortcakes, similar to what her mother nce made, for the Strawberry Shortcake.  The difference in hers and mine is that I am not so generous with the butter.  Mom, like Paula Deen, thinks butter "rules".

Since my old van held everyone comfortably, we all loaded up on Monday to take advantage of my State Park Pass and do a southward State Park tour of the area.  As we started out on the trip my sister suddenly noticed that we had an additional guest as she said "Sandy, you have a Chrysalis on your van door".  Evidently I had an escapee when I was bringing home Butterfly Weed to feed the Monarch offspring, and he, being mature, had just decided to make the best of the situation.  There were a few brown spots which had probably been caused by being treated like a punching bag by those of us exiting and entering the van before noticing his presence.  Time would tell if there was internal damage.  But from then on my battle cry pierced the air each time we stopped as I shrieked "WATCH OUT FOR THE BUTTERFLY!!!"

Our first park visit was Guana State Park just South of Ponte Vedra.  I had not visited the West side of the park, having had my car broken into when I parked once in the remote beach parking lot for visiting the eastern beach side.  With everyone's pocketbooks in the car I did not want to leave the car in that parking lot again.  The West side, besides this lovely river view, did not have that much to see without leaving the car and walking, and Momma was not that up to walking very far.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse was next on the tour.  Although we did not climb the stairs to the top it was still a pretty place to visit.

The house adjoining the lighthouse is really pretty architecturally, and sits in a very nice setting surrounded with gracefully arching branches from the many live oak trees and silhouettes of the various species of palm trees.

Just next to this area is Anastasia Island State Park with its red Dangerous Tide and purple Dangerous Sea life flags flying in the chilly breeze.  The wind had ushered in a light cold front making for our coolest day of the visit.  My brother and I headed for the beach, going our separate ways; his led south toward the pier and mine north toward a flock of birds.  The purple must have been a warning for the Portuguese Man O' War, although I did not see any.  It was too cold to be in the water anyway, at least for any self-respecting Southerner.

While Mike and I enjoyed the views from the park, the rest of the ladies headed to the Ice Cream shop in the park to wait us out.

The birds were dealing with the wind in their own special ways, most normally by facing into the wind and tucking their heads between their wings, burying their beaks to keep the wind from whistling down their very prominent and exposed nasal passages.  The Ring-billed Gull was not wisely facing into the wind and was getting a bit of a breeze underneath those feathers.  In the summer his head would be mostly white.  They have the reputation for being the "fast food gulls" as we later found out.  (Next Story).  These birds mate in southeastern Canada and nearby border states so I guess they should definitely be considered migratory birds.

There was only one other bird which was a migratory species that I saw in the flock, a Foster's Tern, with his early winter eye mask which will later turn into a cap.  They nest on floating marsh grasses, sometime on top of muskrat dens or the abandoned nests of other birds.  They do not nest in our area but just are part of our "snowbirds" who like to winter with us.  They actually nest from the Western Gulf all the way up to the Great Lakes and New York State.  We always enjoy seeing these snowbirds; as artists who run galleries like to see the non-winged versions of the snowbird come through the door.

The wind blowing across the beach area has also produced a great sculpted landscape on the unspoiled dunes, soon to become a well known shorebird nesting area.

A closer version of the patterns of the shadows of the grass and the ripples would make you believe you had encountered a snow bank up north.

Anastasia State Park is a very nice park to visit and spend time exploring.  It is located on Anastasia Island just across the street from the Alligator Farm where the Marsh birds build their massive rookery.

A flock of Great White Egrets hang out just across the dunes in the river marsh area probably just waiting on those hormones to get them moving toward the Farm.  It is a great location for a rookery, with the Alligators to protect them from predators as well as abundant food sources in the surrounding areas on either side of the Farm.

Heading a bit further South to one of my favorite parks, which I wanted to take Mom to see, we came to Washington Oaks State Park, just across Mantanza Inlet and South of Marineland where I go to do my Sea Turtle training sometime next month.  The Blues Sisters, as my Neice has nicknamed my mom and Aunt Helen,  thought it was great although it was a bit of walking for Mom.  I posed them with the statue behind them but it was my girls I wanted in focus.

Washington Oaks was a private estate and was donated to the State for a park.  The gardens left by the previous owners include a formal rose garden, lots of Artesian Spring fed ponds which smell of their sulpher content, and Citrus Orchards growing many species of oranges, tangerines, lemons and grapefruit.

The Koi Pond brought back memories of my recent experience with being emersed in Koi-dom while I did the Koi painting.  I don't know what the straight line is across the photograph unless it is a spider web.  It showed up in all the photos and almost looks like we were fishing for Koi but I swear we were not.

It is a peaceful park with lots of natural and landscaped beauty, and is always very sparsely populated with people the times I have been there.

Lovely pathways with benches, and overlooks with water views to enjoy.

But a fishing we did go.  It had been many years since mom was able to accompany us on a fishing trip.  That is how we used to spend all our family vacations, and wherever we went it had to be a place to fish.  Daddy loved the beach and fishing in the surf.  The rest of us grew up loving to fish also.  Daddy would always plan our yearly trip well in advance, trying to see something different on each trip.  Then we discovered the Outer Banks, especially Ocracoke Island, and after that all roads led us there.  It was the first place I ever encountered a laying Sea Turtle which of course I had little knowledge of then.  It also led me to seek out Cumberland Island, another remote island but I thought a much better place to visit with its great Live Oak Trees and more varied enviroments.  Another whole different story, which families are prone to explore when they get together.  The week is passing much too fast, though with the days filled with just being together, something which is a too rare with our locations spread far apart.  We did another big greasy fish fry with our catch, and I'm sure everyone's cholesterol soared, but it was a good time and not often that they got to have fish so fresh.

More will be explored in another be continued.

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