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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)

2013 came in with a whimper for us.  We left the tree up until the children, David and Rizza came for a brief visit a week into the new year.  It was our Christmas get-together and I believe we were still well within our 12 days of Christmas deadline.  I did manage to finally get the tree down before Valentine's Day, although the boxes still litter the floor.  Not so easy moving around with crutches so much of the time.  I'm getting creative on "how to carry laundry to the laundry room", etc.

I took a short walk on the beach with the kids for my first time since the knee hit rock bottom.  It was great to see this big flock of shore birds, especially the Black Skimmers and some Terns we don't have in the summertime.  It was chilly as they defensively huddled in front of the escarpment to escape the wind.  Facing into the wind is a defensive posture, don't want that wind blowing up your skirt.

They stayed put, until someone walked too closely, then were airborne en mass for a short distance, then settled back into their group to conserve heat.

The star of the visit is always Bella, the Grand dog, as she unenthusiastically poses for her portrait.  She is an unusually good tempered gal for her breed.  Happy and friendly.  Partly this may attest to being moved around several times during her young years, finally being fostered by Rizza for a few days.  Of course she stole their hearts away and and five years later she is a much loved doggie with a wardrobe which rivals mine for sure.

The Willet is, as usual, searching the water's edge for food.  One of my favorite shore birds.

We drove on up the beach to check out the progress on this new house being built on the island.  It seems as if it has taken forever on the building.  I don't know if it just has that much extra stuff going on inside to take up the time, but if the detail on the back side of the garage is any indication, then that might be the case.  Loved this sun on the round window in the upstairs part of the office, guest room, or studio up over the double garage.  Very interesting.

The princess rules from her back seat throne.  (Just got word she was taken to the hospital with a broken leg.  Seems she jumped off David's shoulder and hurt herself.)

It looked like a very successful end of the Butterfly Season as all the caterpillars I rescued from the History Museums Butterfly Garden were doing well, or so I thought.

However not all is as it seems sometimes.  One butterfly emerged instead of the four I was expecting.  The brown color of the Chrysalis to the right is not a good sign.

I took this one outside for her release.  Warm weather made it a perfect time to be outdoors.

Since I was outside and experiencing a bit of cabin fever, a result of nursing the bad, bad knee inside, I decide to take the camera on a short walk about the backyard to enjoy the flowers I have still blooming in early January.  This Angel's Trumpet has outdone itself this winter, and has thankfully made it so far without any freezing temperatures.

My Poinsettas turned red on cue for the holidays.

In remembrance of Sarah from Chattanooga I pause to appreciate the Camellia she gave to me before I moved away.

My Knockout rose always amazes me with its ability to thrive even though I smother it in neglect.

This New Zealand Tea Rose Tree is another favorite winter plant confining its blooms to that season only.  The blooms are tiny but sweet.

The Butterfly Weed has continued to grow and bloom, enabling me to keep my caterpillars supplied with enough to eat without the midnight raids on the neighborhood flower gardens.  For that they are thankful.

Another nice potted plant (I don't usually bring them inside in the winter but will sometimes move them onto the porch or underneath the eaves or cover with a cloth is it looks like it might actually freeze).  I have a friend Anne who comes here in the winters.  She leaves me her plant babies when she leaves town. This is one of hers.  I love having plants with a personal history.

Lacy gives me her, "do you have any treats for me?" look; or could be the "I'm getting ready to climb up your leg" look, one or the other.  That climb up your leg look is always welcome although sometimes painful when I am wearing shorts.

A friend, Nancy and new owner of The Turtle Trot painting, invited me over to check out her work in progress "grass less" yard.  She had lots of older Camilla's which she inherited.  There is such a variety of them.  Lots of Native plants which is the way to go as they don't need so much care.  As she said "a weed is just a plant in the wrong place".

This was her's and my favorite one.

Next morning on getting up I saw that I had twin boys waiting on me.  A gorgeous morning outside so a great start for these two guys to start their prowl for local ladies with which to share their love.

When they start spreading their wings and moving around the tank they are ready to go outside.  I just put my finger in front of them and they climb on and stay until I get them outside. The webby haze is actually left from caterpillars crawling around on the surface of the glass to find a place to hang, and turn into the Chrysalis.  The webs are excreted from each of their feet and makes them hard to dislodge when you need to move them, even on your finger they will stick.

They were pretty and you can clearly see the spots on the back bars of the near one that signifies "it's a boy".

Sadly they would be it, except for the one tiny caterpillar, which had evidently been brought into the tank as an egg.  The reason stems from these fly cocoon's which came from inside the Chrysalis of the developing butterfly.  The bad dark brown oblong objects are the cocoons along with one maggot which has yet to develop the cocoon, of a large fly.  Evidently the caterpillars eat fly eggs laid on the infested plants, which then hatch and develop inside the caterpillar, growing until the caterpillar has turned into a Chrysalis and is almost ready to emerge, when the chrysalis suddenly turns brown and the maggot drops out of the chrysalis, hiding underneath the towel paper in the bottom of the tank and turned into this pile of fly coocoons just waiting to turn into a big fly, larger than what I think of as a house fly.  Each of these; the maggot, the hatched fly cocoon, and the nine un-emerged ones represent a butterfly which was killed by them.  These pre-flies all met a tragic end in a great whitewater whirlpool which ends up in my septic tank.  I did not want to toss them out to go ahead and emerge as more flies.

On a happy note, it looks like Miss Lacy is now a mother.  I was out underneath the big tree with the hollow knothole in it, calling Lacy, when I heard a squirrel growl just above my head.  I looked up and a squirrel had its head sticking out of the hole warning me I was too close.  Being a properly prepared squirrel mother I immediately held a pecan half out to her and she very gently took it out of my hand and went back inside the hole.  I thought, that has to be Lacy.  I don't think that another squirrel would have reacted that way.  I made a couple of trips back to deliver more nuts, each time same thing minus the growl.

Its hard to tell one squirrel nose from another although lacy has always had a stronger dark streak up the center of her nose.  The gentle way she takes the nuts without fear tells me it has to be our girl.  Here she reaches for the nut.

Leaning out to get it.  We have learned to not make any move that she would interpret as an aggressive move toward her little ones.  She is being a good mommy staying close to them.  We are also thrilled the she, the one squirrel we didn't try to get to stay in this hole, found it on her own and is so accessible to us.

The last week was glorious with 80 degree temperatures several days, a January thaw to be enjoyed by all.  Fran and I opted for a girls fishing trip on Monday to take advantage of the tide and the warm sunshine.  A great breeze kept us bug free.  The tide was dropping and we caught several which were too small to keep (at 14 & 15 inches).  But then Fran caught a keeper.  We were hoping for Red Fish of course.  The size limit is between 18"-27" with a two fish per day per person limit also, and that is just in NE Florida.  Everywhere else it is one fish per day.  We try not to abuse our welcome at the friends dock.

Their next door neighbors have an alligator which gave us a quite a start the first time we fished here, and had fished from this dock.  We weren't sure it wasn't real until we stood looking at it for a while.  We didn't want to share a dock with a gator this large.

A perfect day.  Lawn chairs in position, me on the upper dock, Fran positioned on the lower dock ready to retrieve with the net the large fish.  She fished the spot she had caught her best ones last time.  I could reach the spot beyond in front of the neighbor's dock with a long cast.

And it was a great day for me, catching my biggest fish ever, a 25" Red Fish.

This wild part of Florida, which is the saltmarsh and the undergrowth of fast growing vegetation always tempting the mowers, is at your back door when you live here.  You can keep it mowed but it will quickly revert to the wild if left alone.  The water at high full or new moon tide, coupled with seasonal Fall and Spring tides, accompanied by a good Nor easter and it will often move right up to your back door.  The rewards of such a wonderful and uncertain wild view and way of life is worth it for those who live there.

As the fish biting slowed and the tide was almost full low I caught my last big fish a 23" Red Fish.  Fran had caught her limit but today I was champ, a title that is alternately passed back and forth, depending on the day. The day was complete.  The creek had shrunk to a mere ribbon on the upper end as it caught the light from the setting sun.

A bird bathes in the pink lit water.  The edge of the creek is a mass of life as the tiny snail like shellfish show their tops in the light.  I don't know what these are.  I suspect the bird was a Yellow Legs or a Lesser Yellow Leg who are in the marsh in winter.  I don't think it was large enough to be a Willet.

As we packed all our gear up to leave we stopped a few minutes to admire the sliver of moon overhead.  The elusive Moor hens start their end of the day conversations.  The colors left from the sunset was a very nice icing on the cake of our perfect fishing day.

We know the word from Mr. Weatherman is that a cold front is on its way, but we also know that winter is the only time we can catch these fish in this spot.  They will be moving out to deeper water as soon as the weather starts to warm into Spring.  It is also iffy when I am able to make the walk, but with a friend like Fran to cover the landing on the lower dock, and most of the toting of gear, I can possibly get some more time to fish this winter.  Pays to have good friends in your life.

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