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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

The ocean's endless waves are always an interesting start or finish to any day.  Sometimes calming, and other times crashing your consciousness into realizing just how small and insignificant you are in the scheme of time and the universe.

Whether with the power of a storm, or a calmer wind from the west that turns it into only lake-like lapping waves, but always they are there, never ending, one wave after another..

In my insignificance I still keep creating things that will remain for a time even after I am gone as a testament to my existence on this little blue planet.  This time it is creating a new piece of art for the Amelia Island Runner's annual Turtle Trot Road Race.  It is always a challenge to come up with a new concept, whether babies scrambling to the water, their temporary home in the Sargasso Sea, or adults turtles of different species. This year I have decided on a whole different challenge, a technique a friend and I came up with...a "modified" batik done with watercolors instead of dyes, and using brushes instead of dipping the colors in a dye bath.  Above are some of the steps I have taken in the process.  First of all it is done on fabric (a cotton and polyester blend is what I use) instead of canvas or paper.  In traditional watercolor as well as in batik the lightest colors are placed in first.  Beginning with the white of the fabric I cover what I want left white with the hot wax melted in a soup can, using an electric skillet with about an inch of water to keep the wax from catching on fire (not a good thing).  Each color I add after drying is then covered with the hot wax. A complicated process requiring a lot of thought to keep in mind what colors will work over another color.  It is a brave effort to try this because at any step the whole project can be ruined.

Congratulations to one of my sculptors, Jack Nelson, for the sale of his beautiful acrylic sailboat sculpture now safely in its new home in Savannah.

Usually I think of summer as Sea Turtle season to be followed by Monarch Butterfly season in the Fall.  This year has been a real change with the Monarchs continuing to lay and hatch all winter and now into the summer.  I had heard that not all Monarchs leave Florida and now the proof that it seems to be true.  It was particularly true at the History Museum's Butterfly Garden.  I stopped by one day and took some of their leaves which had eggs attached.  I hatched them inside, and kept them in my terrarium long enough to be safe from the nasty small wasps I have which patrol my plants eating all new hatchlings.  Then I put them outside and let them fend for themselves.  I have enough butterflies now to lay eggs on my own plants, which they are doing with gusto.

We had our first named storm of the season, Andrea, which thankfully remained a tropical storm and did not turn into a hurricane.  It was breezy and had some rain with it but nothing damaging.  The morning after the worst of it was a turtle day for me.  The air was clear with just some remnants of clouds hanging around as I headed into the back of the park for the beach.

The water was still pretty rough and I am sure this guy walking out on the rigging of the bouncing shrimpboat had left home that morning assuring his wife he "would be careful" when he left for his day of shrimping.

This gull hung around for a couple of days and I had thoughts of maybe catching it if it couldn't fly but when I approached it got up and walked away.  Maybe it was worn out after all the storminess of the previous few days.

I was glad to see that the sea still had some of the excitement from the day before hanging around so I could see it.  It is always exciting to see a touch of the powerful force that surrounds us.

Sunlight on the water made it glisten as it churned its way onshore.

Coming toward me was this particularly high and rough set of waves a good way from where they normally build up.  I believe there is a sand bar out there that creates surf like conditions out in the water.  I would think this would be a good spot for surfers because they could ride the wave but then be quickly back in deeper water, rather than ride it all the way into shallow water.

Even the rough water had not deterred this mother from attempting to come on shore to lay eggs, but something caused her to leave without reaching her goal.  I'm sure she will come back in a day or so.

The nest numbers have gotten a bit mixed up in my mind.  I think this one is number 2 but I am just happy that they are coming in to lay even though there are fewer this year.  The wind was blowing and was slowly filling in all evidence of the mother's tracks.

Our baby Wilson's Plover chicks are growing up.  They have the long gangly look of a teenager now as their feathers start to form.  Now they just need to grow into those long lanky legs, big eyes, and rather large beak.

Tango anyone??  These two seem to be practicing for one of the TV talent shows.

A new addition to the gallery is this necklace that Carolyn Dyer just created.  Her husband Bill made all the glass beads and she carved and shaped the pendant out of wax, made a mold, then cast it in silver.  It made me think of what I might see on the beach after a storm, starfish and laying mother turtles.

I sometimes see the Little Snowy Egrets on the river area but not often.  This morning a pair of them was working their way up the shore line in front of me.  Very pretty are these "Golden Slipper" birds.

This poor Horseshoe Crab had just about exhausted herself trying to find the water after coming in to nest.  I walked her all the way to the water because she was so tired.

Nest 3 & 4 had been found over the weekend by one of our young and enthusiastic rangers, Brandon.  But as luck would have it I also found one, #5, on my day.  It was in a very odd place and the turtle had a very difficult time finding her way back to the water.  She too must have been exhausted as well as frightened after that experience.  She had come in on the back side of the jetty.  The water had been higher when she came in so she had made her way over the rock tops without a lot of difficulty.  The tide when out and she wandered a long way before she could find a space large enough to squeeze though the rocks.  It will be a hard area for the hatchlings to get to the water without becoming trapped behind the jetty rocks.  

Two of our little Plovers are having a sibling adventure on the beach while Mom and Dad watch from a distance.

My granddog, Bella arrived to stay with me for a week while her parents were off on location doing a job for The Golf Channel.  Her favorite place was to lay in her bed or stand at the storm door drooling over a chance to chase my squirrels..  Bella had to have her left front leg amputated about a month earlier after an accident in which she broke her leg.  The leg would not mend after an extended time of treatment.

I have missed some really great sunsets but this evening, even though not great, was this.  I had gone to speak to a group on one of the small cruise ships that comes into the marina.  Always an interesting mix of people from all over come to take the cruses.

The turtle batik begins to transform gradually.  In the end the last step is to crumple the completely waxed piece and dump it in a pan of black India Ink.  That is a scary thing to do with several week's worth of work.  As I said this process can go awry at any stage and all the work could be for naught with no back up plan.  Artists often work their best under pressure.

Of course Bella was a great help as she watched the process take shape.

Our Osprey's have been the object of some great concern as one of the ospreys had been missing for weeks with no one seeing but a single one feeding the two chicks. Normally the female will stay close to the nest watching over the chicks and the male will hunt and bring home the "bacon", (fish usually). An Osprey, found near the nest, was reported to have been taken to B.E.A.K.S., a well known rescuer of birds in the area, with a broken wing.  Reports from the santuary said the bird they have will survive but will never be able to hunt again, preventing his release into the wild.  Yesterday two birds were spotted on a snag near the nest which we hoped was a sign that the broken winged one was not ours after all.  As time has gone on though with no sighting of another bird on the nest and the report of the broken winged birds rescue being pinpointed near the nest, we once again think that it was our bird after all.  We have not yet determined which bird is missing but we are inclined to think that it may be Alpha, the male.  We are trying to monitor the nest the best we can, to determine which, but so far we have not been able to do so for sure.  Whichever it is, the remaining parent is now filling both roles by having to both feed and protect the nest.  Because of this shortage of help, we fear that one of the chicks is now missing also, probably taken by a larger bird, either owl or eagle.

The sun radiates through the clouds making for a bright spot on the beach, illustrating yet one more of all the reasons why I enjoy my early morning rides on our lightly used beach.

The tidal pools have presented themselves with some very photogenic sand patterns, the kind I love.  

Yea, another nest.  Bringing the numbers up to 6, but the day was not done.  Things are looking up as Father's Day was a big day for turtle laying, giving us a grand total of 7 nests.  

Although the days of massive Horseshoe Crab nesting is drawing to a close this was not the day.  I had so many to rescue that I began to just load them onto the ATV for transport.  I had two or three smaller males in the basket and two large females turned upside down on the seat.  

I would slowly ride them to the water and turn them loose.

I got a call the next evening telling me there had been a tragedy in the park, the drowning of a young man on a fishing trip with some of his friends.  Since they were concerned I might be the one to discover the teenager's body, our park manager took the ATV out before I arrived to pre-screen the riverfront.  A very thoughtful gesture.  However, he thought there was a problem with the ATV, so I was sent out in a vehicle whose clutch, I found out, would not work.  I had a huge number of Horseshoe Crabs to rescue but since the clutch made changing the gears almost impossible for me.  The old beach buggy would not completely stop when in either forward or reverse making it a necessity to change gears several times (I had to get out and unlock and relock the gate),  I devised a plan that allowed me to do patrol without changing gears.  My plan was to hold my right foot on the brake until it stopped, put my left leg out the door, stretching far enough to reach the stranded and stuck crabs, tuck them upside down on the floorboard of the vehicle, drive them to the water and reverse the foot positions and place them on the sand at the water's edge out the opposite door. I was sure I would be muscle sore the next day but all the therapy must have helped  because I had no ill effects.

I thought about the family who had lost their son as I sat looking at this beautiful flower.  His body will probably never be found as the currents run very strong and deep out to sea.  Such is the way of this world on the edge of the land.  The elements of nature are beautiful but unforgiving.  These glorious magnolia trees grow wild on our island, growing and blooming without help from human hands.  

Another of our Skink family was sleeping in he sunshine on my little oudoor water fountain, underneath which one of its cousins, the Broadhead Skink lives.  This is a Five Line Skink, however it can be confusing because young ones of the Broad Head species also have a blue tail and looks a lot like this one.  Sometimes it is hard to distinguish the difference.  Her sides looked as if she were about ready to lay eggs.  The cycle of life on the patio, as with the rest of the island, and our whole world, goes on and on, as we circle our Sun, and Milky Way, an island of sorts, through the universe on our little blue planet.

(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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