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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)

"Second Saturday" Artrageous Art Walk is tonight!  Also the last weekend for Leigh Murphy's excellent exhibition.  Tons of new pottery from Chris Jones who brought me part of the huge new stock done for Shrimp Festival.  Lots of new jewelry in for Mother's Day also.

Mothering takes a lot of different forms from adopting animals, taking grandchildren in to rear, and our of course raising your own children.  In nature there is another whole world of mothering going on regardless if the offspring is a product of egg or live bearing.  Our latest venture into offspring rearing came in the gallery door via a story reader, in the form of a young squirrel which although probably not orphaned, had been captured by her cat which had already destroyed the nest and killed the other siblings.

After a couple of months inside she is now out in the big wide world, this canopy of Live Oak Trees which extends throughout our whole neighborhood.  This is the direction she has chosen after trials and tribulations in other directions to focus her existence.  She spends a lot of time in the neighboring yard because they have more exposed sand, which is covered with acorns (although they are mostly bad) for her to hide.  She can usually be spotted and distinguished from the other squirrels with the meticulous way she hides those nuts.  She is very, very through, digging a deep hole and covering for a long time then patting and smoothing the earth so that you would never know a nut was buried there.  I hope to get a video of that for you all to see, it's hilarious to watch.

We like for our children to come back for visits even though they are growing older and more independent.  Lacy (the Lucky One) is usually around for those visits in the morning and again in the evening.  She stays around more the days I am home because I often leave the back door partially open, and it is nothing to walk into the kitchen and have a squirrel land on my shoulder.  She still, if she can finagle it, likes to take a nap on the top of the kitchen fridge.

We like for our kids to have a balanced diet.  Lacy has lost some of her love of sweet potatoes and green beans that used to be a main stay with her and will only eat a little of that now.  She does still enjoy her fresh corn but likes pecans most of all, with sunflowers running a close second.  Unfortunately the sunflowers are like candy to them and you really don't want that to be their main diet.

When the Chickadees moved out we almost had Bluebirds move in but they found there was way too much traffic on our back patio with Lacy and us out there a lot in the  morning and early evening and finally gave up, moving on to another spot.  I will move the birdhouse a bit further from our back door soon.  

An invasion took place at the Port a couple of weekends ago.  We were invaded by the French.  In celebration of 450 years since Jean Ribault's landing on our shores a couple of French Tall Sailing Ships re-visted, but in a friendly non combative atmostphere.  The sunlight was doing a dramatic dance on the sides of the boats as I made my way to the docks to see the ships.

Although beautiful, they are somewhat small for the voyage across the Atlantic they had just made. I really wanted to see them under sail.  With their 10 pm arrival and departure that was not to be.

We had our own welcoming committee to greet them as two of our own Great White Egrets found the front sails a great place to hang out.

Definitely a French touch in the decorative accents on the ships.

Working hard on my painting it is nearing completion here with the addition of Moon Jellies, one of our own native species as well as the beautiful Green Turtle I chose to represent our Sea Turtles.  Now I had to decide on which species of fish I wanted to school below the turtle.

After researching a lot of fish I decided on the Blue Fish which does travel in schools and it not too bright to take away from the Sea Turtle which I wanted to retain the center of attention.  And now it is finished after working all weekend of Shrimp Festival, not even leaving to go check out the hundreds of booths on the streets.  It was a hot weekend anyway.  The painting is now personally delivered and hung on the walls of its new owners, overlooking the ocean below, which this is to represent.

We have a pair of beautiful orange headed Skinks on the back patio.  This fellow lives underneath the water fountain on the patio.  I have seen another one which is a bit larger on the other side of the patio, so who knows, we may have baby Skinks soon.  The short stubby tail they both have is a result of a near death experience.  Something grabbed them but as nature would have it they are able to detach the tail and leave it wiggling for the predator while they make a swift get away.

We are learning to see a lot going on in our backyard as we sit and wait for our little girl to come home from her busy day of gadding about.  A wren sits atop the ladder and sings his song seranading for anyone who will listen.  The whole family of Chickadees flit around us occasionally checking out their old home, a squirrel and a mockingbird have a squabble over territory up in the trees.  Its a whole world of survival into which we have freed our girl.  A large hawk has been frequenting the trees around us.  Bruce called one day to say the hawk had a squirrel in the neighbors yard.  It was a great relief to know it was not our girl.  Our squirrel, not being an island girl, has a little bit grayer coat and a darker area between her nose, and also has some light areas behind her ears.

It is a great relief to have her come back in the evening to sip a drink of water, nibble some food, hide more nuts, play a while, and then scramble up to her nest box to go to sleep.  Exciting life...waiting for the squirrel to come home, but actually more like an excuse to put the rat-race aside for a few minutes relaxation.

Having a wild squirrel around which is semi tame is fun but I don't think I will do it again.  Pondering about this one living in the wild will drive you to worry way too much about their very survival.

I found out that on Mother's Day one of the busiest places in town besides restaurants is the Nail Salons.  I, though, can get my own person pedicure right on my back patio.  First the big toe...

...then making sure the others get the proper attention.

Using her bottom teeth she then gently starts scraping the surface of the skin, my own personal dermabrasion.

Moving on to the fingernails next and the job is complete.

A pecan reward, then off to nap time.

Waking up is sometimes a slow process for both mother, who has to have her coffee, and young squirrels who always take an afternoon nap.  Bruce sent this out to friends and put this underneath "We purposely didn't choose a Beagle for a pet because we didn't want it howling at the moon, and then, -this happened".  Now, now, Bruce that is just a biiiigg squirrel yawn.

A little stretching and she is almost ready to come down from her front porch.

A squirrels life is busy, busy expending so much energy that a little down time is also in order.  Sometimes after a vigorous workout wrestling with our hands and running circles around our bodies and shoulders she will just plunk down and take a rest.  You can see the whitish area behind her ears in this pose.

But the time has come to search the beach for other mothers of the egg laying variety.  Turtle Season has begun.  May 2 was my first day to hit the beach.  A lot of beach renourishment has left the beach a bit different, certainly wider in this area.  The tides have been extremely high this week with the super moon and the usual high Spring Tide.  This was before high tide, when the water completely covered this all the way over the escarpment yesterday.

The Black Billed ducks which I seem to see every year are back.  It seems odd to me that I never see ducklings.

And wonder of all wonders we had our first Sea Turtle nest on May 2, my first day of Turtle Patrol, about two weeks earlier than usual.  It was a bit unusual as someone reported seeing it late the day before, but it was not there in the morning when Marie did her patrol.  This led us to think it could possibly be a turtle of a different kind than we have ever had, possibly a Kemps Ridley, the most endangered of them all.

It was definitely a small turtle, which they are, the smallest in fact.  The tracks were a bit odd although very similar to a Loggerhead.  We commented on the unusual qualities at the time.  Anyway we will closely monitor it to be sure.  If she laid once then she should lay another couple of times this season.  Maybe we can catch her because a photograph or DNA is the only way you can prove it is a Kemps to the FWC.

I hope you all have a great Mother's Day, and please come by the gallery party; you see new stuff!  Shimp Festival was a total disaster for the gallery, but we might just have the perfect present for your Mom, which would be a win-win for all!

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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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