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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Sandra Baker-Hinton
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
904-491-8040,  904-557-1195 cell

The wind of the Nor'easter from the day before died down enough just 30 minutes before the wedding to allow it to be outside on the lawn at the Sawgrass Country Club down in Ponte Vedra near the bride and grooms home.

I know the girls hair needed a better job, but I was left with the chore, and I know nothing about teasing and hair spray and all that girly stuff because I either had my hair very long or very short the past 45 years and don't do much except blow it dry.  By this time the Florida breeze and the humidity hit, nothing I did was evident anyway.

All eyes were on the bride anyway.

Nicki's wish had always been to have her mom help her pick out her gown and to have her dad walk her down the aisle.  Both her wishes were fulfilled and it certainly didn't hurt to have mom also pay for the dress.

But a more beautiful bride could not have been found.  This was the reason for bringing The Golden Girls down to Florida.  Now how would we keep them here once the wedding was over?

The wedding had some non traditional touches with the matching Converse tennis shoes all the men wore.

A fun atmosphere as the groom's best friend pretends he can't find the ring.  Nicki had almost always lived at the beach during her college years and her Facebook name is Nicki Beach and all her friends call Sister Susan, Momma Beach.  A bit of levity as the minister announced the new couple as Mr. and Mrs. Bobby Panfilli Beach.  That and the Tree Frog which surprised my sister-in-law, Denice, by jumping on her leg in the middle of the ceremony, once discovered with a shriek, it jumped onto cousin Julie's chest.  Never a dull or humorless moment when we have a family do.

It was a fun but exhausting day and I left early with The Golden Girls because I could see they were very tired, and I was pretty frazzled myself.

Another sign of the changing seasons was squirrel birthing season.  As I was leaving to head to Tennessee to pick up the girls I had found a tiny squirrel in a nest that had fallen out of a tree into the street just in front of my house.  I put it back in the fork of the tree hoping that by the time I returned an hour later momma would have found it.  She did.  The next week I found what I believed to be the same Momma Squirrel carrying something in its mouth.  It was her baby boy.  I followed and watched her move her baby into Lacy's old, now vacant home.  This was my chance to watch the little one as it ventured outside onto the porch for the first time.  Fun to get to be part of a life changing event, even if it is only a squirrel.

October would be filled with beautiful morning sunrises.  

This would be my last morning to observe the beach and the sunrise unobstructed without the dredge pipes crossing the my favorite beach from one end to the other.

Sea oats are always a nice frame for a beach photograph.

You begin to see familiar friends in the familiar places in the mornings.  This bird was especially unafraid of human presence.

This morning though, real change was taking place.  Big machines were greeting me at the break of dawn.

New tracks were telling a different story in the sand from the ones I was used to.

We had thought the dredge project had been called off, but the navy had interceded and now it was back emergency clearing of the channel for the submarines to pass through.

Familiar tracks were still there with Brer Fox still making his presence known.

The sand tells many stories.  These are the tracks belonging to a couple of small Ground Doves which live in the dunes near the end of the boardwalk.  A very shy couple who avoid most of my photographing efforts.  Even the grasses leave their marks in the soft sand as they sway in the breeze.

It looks like a raccoon has been here too.  I don't usually see raccoon tracks on the ocean side of the beach although I do see them on the river beach.  i have been worried about them though, since one joined in the maraurading vventure with Brer Fox and destroyed nest 11 completely one night.  

This one is a mystery to me.  It may be some kind of worm, snail, bug--I really don't know what.

Part of my morning round is to try to catch the very beautiful Painted Bunting at the bird feeders in the park at the bird watching station.  I can glimpse a tail on the other side of the feeder but that is all.

My only chance at catching this species was the female which, like a lot of the bird gals, is pretty bland.  Her pale green color, also the color of first year males, is hard to pick out against the green plants, but I was never able to find the bright blue, red, yellow and green male.  Someday I will do it.  My first experience of even knowing they existed was on Cumberland Island on one of my early camping trips.  They are having a hard time surviving as Cow Birds are invading their nests and leaving them a giant gift of their egg and an enormous baby to raise.  It roots out the smaller Bunting chick causing the species to be in real trouble.

Sometimes surprises are in store as I look up to a sound above and low and behold Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang soared overhead.

Butterflies continue to float in and out of the back yard.  They don't seem to be aware that there will soon be a change in the temperatures.

A surprise plant which turned out to be blue instead of the red I had expected but it was a nice surprise.

My caterpillars have stopped laying eggs and this is the last of my Monarch caterpillars.  Last year they stayed around all year.  It will be interesting to see if this year will be a repeat or if this is the final Swan Song of the season.

A funny little tree frog has figured out how to get inside the storm door and almost every night he is there hanging out in a very safe place for a little froggie to sleep. He is tucked into a place where he has room without being in the way of the door as it swings open and shut.  I never see it come and go just look up and there it is.

The big pipes are now being laid into their proper alignment for the days and job ahead.  The big props are to raise the pipes up to a point where baby Sea Turtles can get underneath at the points where we still have two turtle nests in place.

More tracks as I make my way behind the pipe to check the southern most nest.  A set of gopher tracks parallel the pipe for a long way down then disappeared underneath the pipe.  I asked the guys working with the pipe line if they had seen a tortoise, but they had not.  Lots of big machinery out there for a little tortoise to compete with.

Then I spotted him (I did check that fact).  Males have a concave tummy.  I picked him up tucked him underneath my arm and went about finishing my turtle patrol and sunrise watching.

Together Mr. Turtelle and I watched the sunrise.  I had figured he had been on his way to take a bit of a morning bath and I wanted to make sure he had gotten that out of his system and wouldn't try to cross the big traffic lane of heavy equipment again trying to get in the water.

He sat watching the sunrise.

...but seemed uninterested in getting into the water.  I notice on further examination that it appeared he had a line around his shell showing that he had already had his morning dip.

I retrace his route until I found where he had exited the dunes, put him down, and watch as back to his home he headed.  Gopher Tortoises are not supposed to like water but more and more we are seeing that living near the water has changed their exclusive preference for an arid semi desert environment and can appreciate the nearness of that big nearby pond once in a while.

Across the other side of the jetty is the big dredge equipment set up to pump that enormous volume of water and sand thought that long, long pipe.  The Black Skimmers do what they do best, skim the water for their next meal, with that very adept for the job beak.  They are not only a pretty bird but an interesting one to boot.
We are approaching the end of Sea Turtle season with the arrival of Fall and a time of switch in emphasis as I put my efforts toward the gallery and getting the business into gear.  

Deciding what to do about The Golden Girls, as they are very homesick, and ask all the time to go back home.  Weighing the quality vs. quantity of life is part of the equation.  Not all change is welcomed and sometimes some people cannot adjust.  I have been fortunate to have a survival instinct that has allowed me to "roll with the punches" and adjust to change better than I ever thought possible.  I think part of that had to do with moving from where I intended to always live to an new place a long distance from my roots, once I was out of college and discovering that home is where you make it, not necessarily a certain house, street, and community.  With my mother that was never the case.  She and Helen have always lived within a distance of only a dozen miles or so, making that kind of change comes very hard for them.  My mom's center of the universe is in the home my Father built for her when I was in 4th grade.  If there is a way to get her back we will try to find it.

(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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