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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
http://www.sandrabaker-hinton.com
http://www.ameliasanjongallery.com
Amelia Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)

I have known for some time that many of you have not been getting my stories and think that I am not writing them anymore.  Something happened with GoDaddy last Spring that changed those on the lists.  A few of you have had me to change your emails but it is more than that.  When I went into the list yesterday I found that many of you had been put on a "Disabled" list.  I am attempting to get you put back on the active list.  If you don't want to get them just hit the "unscribe" button and that will take you off.  I don't know why you were put on the disabled list unless it has to do with your virus and spam protection devises which have screened me out.  I personally still cannot send myself an email from one of my computers to another, and no one at my email service can figure it out.  I have to send to Bruce and he sends it on to me.

For those who might want to look back for any missed episodes, just use the "Back to Storybook" link at the bottom of any story.  They are all still there!


Lacy was now advancing to the point where we felt it was time for her to explore the patio and get an idea of "the outdoors".  She still loved her bottle, but was now sleeping in her nesting box in the bathroom.  Now to introduce her to the outside world.  We did not want to rush or push her out before she was ready to go and figured once she got a taste of it, her desire to go outside would overwhelm anything else.
 

So I opened the door as I sat on the doorstep allowing her to wander onto the big out-of-doors.  She carefully explored the patio little by little, being very cautious with unfamilair things like water hoses, and ceramic turtles.  Her chosen nut hiding place was under a leaf in a pile of moss, or yet again, down the back of my shirt collar.


Then she found 'Dirt'.  What a wonderful discovery!  Right there in the edge of the patio it was.  Now it felt right to bury the nut in the dirt.


The sheer joy of just rooting in this wonderful stuff is expressed in this shot with her body just a blur of her really getting down and dirty.


And, lo and behold, there was even more dirt.  A flower pot; never mind that it had plants in it.


Afterward it was in a bit of disaray to say the least, but being a good Dr. Spock trained parent, I did not want to say "no" and damage her inner spirit..  Instead I moved the plants that mattered to other places and let her have her pot to throw dirt to her heart's content.  Of course it is not nearly as much fun without the plants but still good for hiding nuts.



The third Black Swallowtail Caterpillar had almost reached it's last stage before it turns into the Chrysalis form.  Very exciting that I actually got some on the first season for the plants.  I had planted some carrots last year but had never pulled them up to see if they had carrots.  They have kept growing and seem to also be a host plant for the Swallowtails, an unexpected benefit.  I did notice that if a caterpillar started with the curly parsley it stayed on only those plants, but this one which started on the carrots stayed on the carrot plants exclusively.  Just thought that was an interesting occurance in caterpillar behavior.



The back side of our privacy fence was a good place for Lacy to explore, since the end post of this fence was the proposed location for Lacy's nest box to be located.


The new digging pot was a favorite spot for the next few days as we let her explore the patio area and hope that she would consider it her home base.


A few days of being allowed outside was clearly something she loved.  By Saturday the day before we planned on moving her outside she became obsessed with wanting out.  Bruce sent this photo after I had left for work and called it "OutIwantout".  She spent the day trying to get outside and would only leave the room with this door, so he could put her back in her "bathroom" safe house, after he turned on the vacuum cleaner and frightened her enough to make her run out.



Digging can wear a girl out, especially when it is almost squirrel bedtime.


While this drama is unfolding, the Chickadees are busy, busy feeding their young family.


The season for Amrylis blooming is also upon us.  This color is a favorite of mine.


Although the white one is really pretty also.


Sunday morning is the day that dreams will come true for Lacy.  She looks very grown up, but in reality is much smaller than the grown-up squirrels in the yard.  We will see if the grass is really greener on the other side of the door.  The door to real freedom is finally to be opened.


While Lacy explores the great smelling, fully-in-bloom Jasmine vines on the fence, the nest box waits, ready to be mounted on the post which is hidden under cover of the densely growing vine.  I used some clippers to clear out the spot for the box.  I don't trust a man with clippers when it comes to my plants.  I climb up and get it ready.


Lacy is still having fun exploring her new world.  But while I am preoccupied with getting the post cleared, a big glitch in the planned flow of the transition happens.  We had purposely kept Lacy away from the TREES until her house was in place and she knew where her "home" was located.



But I turn around to see her moving at nearly the speed of light as only a squirrel can, moving up, up, and away to the tip top of the enormous and high canopy of huge Live Oak trees which cover our neighborhood yards for a long, long way.  After trying in vain to get her to come back, I give up and set about doing some yard work where I could keep an eye out for her.  It was a couple of hours before she tired herself out and decided to return to her home base.  She finally walked out of the flower bed as if she had never been gone, finding her way back to her own place.



Finally we were able to introduce her to her newly installed home.  Her apartment has an old fishing net I had found on the beach in place to give her better traction for climbing up.


She figured it out.


Down below we also have a couple of turtles we brought out to enjoy the sun and make their shells grow strong and which are now new residents.  Bright Spritely my Great Niece Reagan's pet, which after several escapes and a two week period of staying lost in the house, is now doing an extended stay-over at our house.  The next day after he arrived, my house guests, Ocellia and girls, called on their way down and said they had brought me something, a baby turtle which was crawling across their yard.  Its name is Maybe Baby, and as fate would have it, they are both Yellow Earred Sliders and are a native species just in case they should escape we would not be creating a no-no for the environment.  Brite Spritely had shown signs of needing a friend since he had very amorous tendencies toward anything that resembled another turtle, especially the plastic alligator which had been added for company.  However, he has behaved himself since the addition of the little one with no improper advances toward Maybe Baby so far.  Just needed company, apparently.  



We decided that her house might be too hot for her mid-day naps; after the second day she came in the house on my shoulder and high tailed it to her favorite spot on top of the fridge and slept for 2 hours.  To make sure this was not the case again we pulled vines and more netting over the top and back of the box to give it natural shade and a plus make it look better camoflaged from our view, which was not the pretty side of the box.


After the long nap, (from which we had made her wake up, knowing it was nearing her official bed time), she was wound up.  With her power nap underneath her belt once back outside she quickly scaled the vine covering the utility room and she was gone.  She stayed gone and once again we worried if she would safely return since it was fast approaching darkness.  These were the early days and everything was a time of learning experiences for Lacy.  Letting a squirrel go in the wild is not like letting the kids go to school where you know they will be relatively safe.  For a squirrel in the wild learning can be a life and death experience.  We often have a large owl come sit in our trees at night waking us with his "hooting owl" routine.  For squirrels, owls are not usually a threat because they are already safely tucked in bed before the owls begin to hunt.  But we were fast approaching the unsafe time.  I went back outside right as darkness almost was upon us and a grey streak flashed by my feet from the back of the yard heading straight for the safety of the back door.  We let her in briefly, but had a firm talk with her about being outside in her own house.  I climbed up and set her on her porch and she went inside to sleep.   We lead such exciting lives, mornings having coffee on the patio with the squirrel and our evening glass of wine sitting on the patio with the squirrel.  Once she scampers up to her house and is gone to bed (normally about sunset) we go inside to our dinner.  The apron strings are being loosened but slower than with Shelly as we know what happened with her and the territorial disputes with the other squirrels.  We want Lacy to have dominion in her own space.  It seems to have worked because the squirrels who visit her patio to steal birdseed are very accepting of her and do not cause her any problems; however, it may backfire, having her too close and allowing her to be too dependent on us.


The Chickadee parents are starting to look frazzled with their regimen of feeding their growing family and I expect to see them gone any day.  It takes them all day to get their clutch of kids out on their own.  I can identify, as this squirrel separation has been much more extended than we expected.  With the Chickadees they take one chick at a time out of the nest and make sure they know the ropes; then they will take the next one, until finally they are all gone.

Lets hope our desire to give Lacy a safer environment won't lead to a squirrel whose survival skills are not as sharp.  She has learned and now makes it back before dark although we think she has learned that if she waits until almost sundown most of the other suirrels are gone and she has an easier time of getting back without being bullied.  It is a hard time for finding food; though there are thousands of acorns on the ground from last years crop, almost are all rotten inside or have already been eaten by worms.  Plants are in the flowering stage and not in the seed stage.  However our little one is a big vegan, loving cooked green beans, fresh corn, and sweet potatoes as her favorite foods.  Of course those are not readily available in the wild either.  Oh well...

(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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