Beach, FL 32034
Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
good time and not often that they got to have fish so fresh.
More will be explored in another story...to be continued.
(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. 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.)