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

With the great Spring weather we had the coolness left us throwing the widows open at night and if Lacy was out we would let her come back an forth getting the pecans I had picked up through the winter months.

She was pretty picky and I ended up cracking out a lot of the really good ones for cooking, which my friend Lisa had sent me from up in Georgia.  They were Lacy's favorites and mine.  Hopefully I will get a pecan tree out of some of those.  We are now out of those bigger nuts and Lacy is happy to take the smaller ones from here.  She can pick up a nut and tell immediately if it is empty or not.  She will toss it aside and I pick it up and I know by its weight that it has no meat.  Pretty smart squirrel gal.

Time is often measured here by which Festival falls in that month.  The biggest of them all is The Shrimp Festival which began over 50 years ago.  The Shrimp Festival Parade always is led by the colors and then the police, sheriff, and firemen.  This year there were around a hundred different participant/groups registered to be in the parade.

This was my favorite Shrimp in the whole parade.  I always tell everyone "you are either in it or watching it" if you live here.  We always watch it from the galleries front porch with friends who drop by.

Last year the parade was changed to the Saturday and you would have thought those who made that decision had chained the doors of the churches.  Change is not easy here when it is deals with tradition.  It had always been on Thursday evening, kicking off the first of 4 days of Shrimp once again Thursday was Parade day.  Of course last year Thursday would have been a terrible night as it poured rain.  But this year's weather was great and it stayed that way the whole weekend, with nice cool breezes and just warm enough to be comfortable.  These dates begin to float through your mind, wonder what I will be doing when that class graduating.  Dealing with The Golden Girls, my mom and my aunt, makes you wonder about your own later years.

As always there are lots of beads and candy...

also balloons which hopefully will not be released to go out over the ocean.  Almost all the turtles who are found dead have plastic in their digestive system, especially lethal are the balloons.  

...and of course Pirates are the main characters outside of Shrimp.   In this case Pirates with Shrimp.

There is always a theme and this year I did not really know what it was besides Shrimp.

Wells Fargo sent their beautiful horse drawn stagecoach.

And did I say children?  Of course always children, who are the most important part of any community.

This one big Shrimp seems to make it back year after year.

Then there are children who are pirates...and now with our own Pirate Store it is easier to get the right garb.

Many of the children are Pirates and they are really into being pirates to the best of their abilities.

Vintage vehicles are a good addition to any parade.

When the grownup Pirates show up in large numbers then you know that the parade is almost over.

The truck with the eight flags, symbol of our island, and part of the of its rich history, is pulling the Pirate Ship and the Pirates, Swabbies, and Winches walk  along with the ship and some ride on it.  Shooting the cannon is always the sign that the parade if actually at an end.

And if you don't know the signal that the cannon fire is the signal the parade is over then the vehicle behind it has someone holding up a sign saying, "The End".

The Pirates will continue to be around the whole weekend and even have a booth at the waterfront from which you too can buy clothes to dress like a Pirate.

The clear skies are certainly welcome and the evening comes to an end.  For the first time on Friday we did not stay to watch the fireworks but the day was just too long.  Seems as if the days are getting longer but the weeks, months, and years are so much shorter.  

Shrimp Festival always signals the beginning of Sea Turtle Nesting Season even though the turtles don't usually lay for another couple of weeks.  Sunday my first day, I found the beach was still in a mess where the beach renourishment project had just ended that week.  It will take a while for rain an winds to smooth this back out.  There were no nests yet but a few Horseshoe Crabs to rescue where they were stranded on the beach.

One of my favorite events is the Parade of boats who come for the Blessing of the Fleet and a flash back to old days when this was the focus of the whole thing over 50 years ago.  Shrimp Boat races and the Blessing of the Fleet were the beginning activities to what eventually became the Art Show, entertainment and other parts which have added to what we see today.

The Georgia Bulldog is always the lead in the parade.  It is a study ship and is outfitted to be a real shrimping vessel but does a lot of ocean research.  They often pick up turtles in trouble.

A wreath was brought from the Marina by boat out to the middle of the river to be placed on the water in remembrance of all the shrimpers and others who have lost their lives.

Then afterwards each boat parades by for their blessing by the priest, then they line up again to parade by the reviewing stand to be judged as to the best decorated boat.  This of course is the Captain Jack.

This was an especially patriotic one with a huge flag and patriotic music.

The reviewing stand was a bit different this year.  The treasure hunting vessel was taken to the middle of the river where with the poles lowered it made for a stable but central place for both the blessing and the judging to take place.

Jet Stream was certainly decked out with lots of live dancing shrimp and even palm trees growing on its deck.

Judge was last years winner.

After the Shrimp Boats comes all and any others who want the blessing for a successful year ahead.

...aaaahhhhh, that we do.  No one who lives here would eat shrimp when we are at inland restaurants after having our local shrimp on a regular basis.

All decked out in their finest these Shrimpers represent the best of them in the present times and pay homage to those who went before.  It's about tradition.

Working on getting my plants ready for a summer of butterflies, I hope.  The passion Flower is for the Gulf Fritillaries and the Zebra Longwings.  Fritillaries like them in the sun and the Zebra Longwings like them in a more shady environment.

I don't make it usually to the waterfront this time of the year even though we have lots of beautiful sunsets I can still get a glimpse from my own backyard, just not as spectacular.

Our newest addition to the family "Spot" if finally growing.  It is hard to know how much to feed as he is starting to want food and will come out from under his hiding place to beg for the food sticks we use.  You don't want a turtle to grow too fast as their shell will deform.  I still don't know the sex of the turtle but Bruce has been changing his name to her name, Patty.  He says she doesn't look like a spot any more but more like a cow patty.

One of the early days was a pretty windy day with wind blowing spray as the waves try to fold over.

Jellies, in this case the Cannonball Jelly, litter the shore and since they are a favorite food of Sea Turtles, their arrival forecasts of the coming of he Sea Turtles will not be far away.

We are busy documenting our earliest babies.  This Momma Wilson's Plover is not that fat, but is hiding her little ones underneath her belly feathers.  You can see the rear end of one of the little ones sticking on the right side of her white underside.  They usually have 3 eggs/chicks although it is tough for them to raise them all.  The little ones are equipped to run the beach from the time they hatch until they fledge.  Even as adults who can fly most of their time is spent chirping what seems like 24 hours a day as they forage the beach looking for food.

I am trying to hurry with this story to get it out because by now we are into a full two months of Sea Turtle Season and it is what I believe to be the most exciting one yet and I can't wait to bring you up to date on what is stay tuned for a wild Turtle Ride.

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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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