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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)

It is the time for Thanksgiving Week to roll around and I am still into catching up with Fall.  To be realistic I probably won't have time to get another story done before Thanksgiving because I am taking off to see Momma Jones up in Northeast Tennessee and I have much to do before I go.  A reminder is that Saturday the 24 th is Small Business Saturday.  American Express will give you $25 off a purchase if you preregister starting November 18.  This to remind you that there is a limited number so jump on it.  Who can't use an extra $25 with which to shop.  Go online with American Express to register and then come see me.  I am one of the merchants you can use your AmEx card with and earn $25 credit on your card.  I am working really hard to get another load of glass done before then.

As Sea Turtle Season wound down, and I only have the number of nests left which I could count on one hand, I began to find that I was rushing through the morning seeing how quickly I could get finished, allowing myself to sleep in another 15 minutes and still get back home in time to get ready for work in leisure.  


And then one morning I just stopped and had a good talk with myself.  "Self", I said, "what are you doing? At best you only have a few more weeks of this special time, so stop and smell the seaweed."  I had been doing what I urge others to not do.  Speeding though life without stopping to see and feel the world as it flies by.  Once again I allowed myself to savor my time on the beach, soaking up and appreciating all the little things that I love to see and discover.


I had taken a stroll on the docks the evening before and observed this big fellow filling its tanks with gasoline.  At that point the gas pump gauge was whirling around to some $1400.  I was aghast, but the attendant in the little marina supply store told me that it would take another 30 to 45 minutes to just fill up and that the total bill would come to $6000 or more.  Hard for me to even comprehend that, when I don't ever fill up my automobile tank completely, because I can't stand to see the gauge to go over $60.  I just wondered what kind of mileage one would get with that tank of gasoline and no wind power.  


Someone had wanted me to post a photo of a Bay Tree that I am always talking about being the host plant for the Palemedes Swallowtail Butterfly.  It reminds me of the smaller leafed Little Gem Magnolia but once you break a leaf and put it to your nose smelling the delicious fragrance it releases you know the difference.


Another beautiful morning with an equally beautiful lady, one of my friends, Brenda, who walks with her 90+ year old mother on the beach most mornings.  Since they do not walk the same distance or the same pace I meet one heading one way and the other heading in the opposite way.  Brenda has been raising money for a school in Ethiopia in which she taught as a young Peace Corp worker.  She married the Priest and took him away, but that is another story that she would have to tell you.


When we went to excavate this nest we found this poor little fellow was trapped by one small root which had grown into the nest and had intercepted his route on the way up.  Only the tip of his nose was sticking out.  I had remembered seeing it 2 days before as we checked post-hatching, but I thought it was a small crab hole in the nest.  I felt so badly when I realized this little guy had been sitting there trapped and struggling for all that time, trying to get that vine from around his shoulders.  He must be so tired.


Although its shell was a tiny bit mis-shapened from the experience he was able to make it into the water just fine.  We carried the two of them part way to the water.  It is important for them to go through the whole process naturally, even if it is shorter.  Some how and at some time it is imprinted in their brains to return to the beach some 25 years from now and we do not like to interfere with that process by putting them directly into the water.  They need to experience it all.


Another problem love affair as the object of his affections gets herself stuck in the muck of wet sand, which has quickly become a hard prison encasing her as the water goes out with the tide.  He being oblivious to her plight just keeps on with his wooing efforts.


Mornings come and go as I enjoy each one, taking time to reflect on what I am seeing, and looking for new treasures and adventures to be brought in from the sea.


Back on the home front our "little boy" had found a place he had claimed as "his".  The same knot hole in the big oak outside our bedroom window which our first squirrel, Shelly had used in the beginning.  One morning after he had moved out, I heard this noise which sounded like a cat noise.  I went out to check on what it was and it was Peanut, loudly exclaiming to the world that this was his place.  It was as if he were saying "mine, mine, mine.



The Monarchs had started showing up as I would watch them float over the river on their way South.  I would see them on my own butterfly weed and see them laying eggs.  My plan for providing a habitat was working.


As I left the back of the park one day I had to stop and see the fluttering flowers along the roadside.  These were the Gulf Fritillarys on the Spanish Needles.  They were just so pretty.



They were everywhere along the road side looking like a bed of orange flowers mixed in with the white ones.



Fran and I even took time to go to the pier to fish one day.  Luck was not with us with the fishing but if you look closely you will see a large Loggerhead swimming in the waters beneath the pier.  I could never get a photo of her coming up for air as she went underneath the pier and disappeared from view.  The Tanic Acid in the receding tide water prevented a clear photograph.



We did not push our little one to move out, but once he made the decision to sleep outside, I seized the opportunity to reclaim my bathroom.  Peanut continued to come back inside for several days and seemed to be very hungry, and I believe more thirsty than anything.  When offered his bottle, which he had pretty much given up, he eagerly drank it down, even more than he had been used to drinking.  I think he had not yet learning to drink by lapping water.  I had been concerned about that because I had never seen that happen.  That is an important step in outdoor survival.  He would lick water off your skin or the bark of the tree, but seemed to get it up his nose if he tried to drink it out of a container.


It was odd to have this big fat grown up boy come in and want his bottle.  He also was not so sure he wanted to sleep outside all the time either.  He would decide he would just snuggle up in my house coat or just crash on the back of the sofa.  We were firm but gentle in taking him back to his chosen knothole when he got his sleepy look.  Only once did he come back.  Once I thought he was all tucked in, when about 9 pm I looked up and he was hanging on the screen door.  He was lucky some big owl had not snatched him up.  But that was the only time.  And eventually he gave up even his knothole preferring, as the others had, to live in the tree tops in some unknown place.  But the knot hole is a good interim nesting spot.  I think they are drawn to a higher place than the hole is.  They can't reason that this is dry, this is strong, this is protected but can only listen to some inner voice from thousands of years ago saying you must go higher, Grasshopper. 


More lovely sunrises to absorb knowing that once turtle season is over I will probably not see any more until next Spring.



Interesting patterns in the sand on those mornings after a wind dominated day, and you find you are the only tracks in it just like a new fallen snow on that first morning.



The Mullet, a fish that schools in great numbers in the Fall, lure the birds to feast on them.



The Pelicans have moved into position on the ocean side and river's edge, abandoning their usual Marina perches, to take advantage of the bounty.  


A tiny flower offers a spot of beauty on an other wise barren dune.  This pretty little white flower is not to be messed with as its name indicates, the Stinging Nettle, it can cause a good lot of pain if you accidentally get into it with your hand or step on it.  I am not sure, being one who likes to avoid pain, just how it works.  I don't know if you have to prick your skin or just touching it causes the pain.  My momma didn't raise no fools and I have not tempted fate to find out.



A lot of people have commented on the great number of "dead" Horseshoe Crabs.  I am quick to tell them that they are not dead, but just the shed skins as the crabs molt to grow larger.  Fall especially September seems to me to be the time of most of this activity.  The beach is littered with them.  If they are light and don't smell, then you can take them with you without fear of them becoming odifirous on the way home.  


The large dunes on the North end of the Park are pretty and I begin to think of exploring them once the weather is cold.  I am not venturing back in there in the summer.  Several big rattlers have been spotted in the park this summer and I know this is a great habitat for them.  I don't want to accidentally intrude in their space.


The roundish brown scrubby plants in the flat area are actually what they look like, Western Tumbleweed.  We don't know how it got here, but it is an invasive plant and will be tackled at some point.  Hopefully before it spreads too much.


This couple was able to make it into the water on their own although the male was persistent in his attentions.



The Southern Flounder are biting.  It takes a bit more skill and finesse to catch these fellows.  I have yet to master the technique, but maybe someday soon I can try my hand, because I love Flounder.  Such unusual fish, with their funny side-ways mouth, and two eyes on the same side of the head.  I am told they start out with their eyes, one to a side, and that the eye gradually moves around to its odd position.  I have to keep reminding myself that the world record was caught off the South end of our island and it weighed about 20 lbs.  That is a big fish and it is just like winning the lottery.  Of course like buying the ticket you have to bait that line and try or its not going to happen.


Dropping back mornings into my more relaxed ride gave me time to appreciate the privilege it is to do that 8 mile round trip each morning.  I realized that not that many more of those mornings would be available to me this year.  I stopped the buggy for a minute to just look at the sunlight patterns on the trunks of the two tall Cabbage Palms by the side of the road.  Yes, mornings are nice once you take the time to see and appreciate 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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