Amelia SanJon Gallery
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
904-491-8040, 904-557-1195 cell
Time marches on but I
seem to be always behind the rest of the parade and trying to double
step to catch up. Life has dramatically changed since the
story was written, but I am finally able to get to the Fort
State Park in time to catch the actual sunrise.
Sunrise Shell is a fore runner of that feat. I did not find
but another of my beach buddies had found it and was excited to share
her find since I too, had never seen one before.
Moonrises are an event to take note of here on the island and the last
one in August's was special because we took the time to join
friends, along with new
neighbors, Trisha and John, to watch it
come up from the beach at the Scott Road Beach Access. We sort of
hung around the edges of another group of Seniors
really know the quality of setting aside this time for each full moon
rise by taking their chairs and some refreshments and sharing it
all together. As life is on a small island some of us knew
some from each group.
almost sunrise morning came with this beautiful view from the back gate
of the park. I knew I would never make it to the beach to see it
so took what I thought a very nice substitute. As August
approached the end I was met with the
that my mom and Aunt Helen's Caretaker, Carolyn, was resigning.
The nice little plan we had in place to insure their safety had
come to a crashing end. What to do now?
The calmness of the morning was not reflective of
the turmoil going on inside me as I searched for the right answer with only a week to figure it all out.
beach has always been a time of calmness for me out of my hectic
schedule, a time to just step back, take a deep breath, and drink in the peace I
problems can be put on the back burner as I cope with real life and
death issues in my critter world. Since the rangers were too
busy to deal with the screen project,
I asked permission to take over the screening of the nests against the
fox predator. I first bought the orange plastic webbed
you see around construction sites. With the help of some
goers, along with Amy, my new beach buddy, we managed to screen all the
remaining nests. It did not work, Brer Fox just tore right
through. I then started over with scavenging some discarded wire
fencing in the park, with the correct size openings, which finally protected the nests.
Although Mr. Fox
tried he did not huff, and puff his way though our barrier. Of
course another fly in the ointment is that now there could possibly be
a problem with the metal in the screening interferring with the
magnetic field in the baby turtle's head, which helps it navigate the
globe to find its way back to this area. Oh me, too much to think
was my partner in that endeavor, and I don't know how I would have
accomplished that feat without him. We went to the park after my gallery
closed, he cut the wire into 4 foot squares and I rode them down to the
beach on my ATV. I was sitting on the front edge of the pile of screens and had a
strapped on the front to hold all the stakes we had made for securing the wire, along with a
big mallet and we were in business.
Bruce drove on down to meet me. I rode the ATV dropping
off all the squares of wire as he started placing them over the nests.
The squares allowed the little hatchlings to pass
through with 2" x 4" openings, but protected the nest.
The near full moon in its morning phase is
visible if you look closely you will see the round spot in the center of the upper sky.
rays are pretty as they seem to highlight the Shrimp Boat on the
horizon, making me think even more of it as a dancing a girl with its
skirts spread, only this time she is dancing on a spotlighted stage.
continued to hatch but with few left in the nest. That is a good
thing because those which get out of the nest the first night are more
robust and able to survive. Usually this year, with all our rain, if
were left in the nest it was because roots have grown into the nest and
caught them, usually across the shoulder. This one had also been
pressed up against the side of the nest in such a sitution, so tightly
that one flipper was
not working well.
little fellow was giving it a gallant effort. I wanted it to
a good part of the way to try to give that weak flipper some time to
strengthen. It did start to work better but definitely not 100%.
few false starts with waves that washed it back and tossed it around.
I finally got one of the gals who was barefooted to wade out
enough to get it past the breakers and on toward its fate whatever that
bright spot waited by the gate one morning as I unlocked the access to
the beach. The orange mushrooms were testament to the many
showers we have had this summer, making all things grow, with giant mushroom gardens everywhere.
calm and pastel morning to help rest the troubled mind as I begin to
make a plan to travel to East Tennessee to bring my mom and Aunt back
home with me. I knew of no one else who could take care of
on a daily basis right now. None of the other siblings were in a
situation where they could do it. I think the eldest child
usually feels that responsibility more, maybe not.
anyone who can feed a crippled Monarch Butterfly with a syringe and keep it alive for a month and a half, as well
as raise numerous baby squirrels, can surely protect two elderly ladies from
potential harm. Turtle Trot day was the deadline for my
Bruce and I discussed what this would mean to our lives and
was willing to be my support in the undertaking.
morning, a few days before I was to leave, was a very special one as one of our 3 Green Turtle nests had
hatched. I could see ants going into the nest which often is
indication of a dead turtle in the nest. I ran my fingers
the wire to see what I could feel. Sure enough in addition to
dead turtle was three very alive ones.
was difficult to get a clear photo of any of the three because they were sooooo fast. Two of them
are here, the third which was quite sand covered, I was unable to get a
clear shot. They were so very strong and energetic, as fresh
the nest on the first day of hatching, makes them.
second one was also full of vim and vigor. There were three
there so each of us picked one of the turtles to follow and protect.
all moved so fast it was all I could do to keep this fellow into focus
at all. I did post on my facebook page a video of the final
moments before this guy went into the water and as he swam away, so
check it out if you didn't see it.
This little guy got his first taste of a watery world as it
dived headlong into a tidal pool. I am sure he was surprised to
get to the other side so quickly. Wonder if he thought that was
all there was to it.
The best chance to get a clear shot of these fast movers was
to wait for the moment when the turtle stops to get his bearings and
recheck his travel plan. At that moment they stop, lift their
head, look around, then plunge ahead until the next stop.
They will usually do this several times before they actually
hit the water. You can see the differences in texture of the
carapace (backs), the coloring is black edged in white and
flipper lengths a bit longer. A very different turtle from the
If he looks airbourne then that is almost the case.
Speeding along it was as if the flippers barely touched the
ground in his eagerness to reach the water.
As it nears the water the sand begins to be soft enough to
show the unique tracks of a Green Turtle with the longer front flippers
reaching beyond the back flippers in their stride unlike the Loggerhead.
A slight change in course and his pathway still leads toward the water and a new home.
They have such beautiful eyes, and when adults they have a
pattern just above the eye which looks for all the world as if it has eyelashes.
The side of the head also shows a pretty pattern which will only
intensify as they grow.
A blink of those big eye lids and a pause before making that final plunge into the sea.
One of the gals also found a live Sand Dollar so I was
explaining to our beach newby, Michelle, how to tell when a Sand Dollar
was alive. I videoed the movement of the tiny hair like
appendages which allow them to move and was pleased to see how well you
could see that movement on the top and bottom. I told her the
importance of not taking live ones. I have lots of questions
about how shellfish all work, how does a shell grow? how do the little
hair like things move? are there nerves? I don't think I have time to
find out so many details, I guess "don't sweat the small stuff" applies
here. I need to consentrate on learning how to give an insulin
We misjudged on where this nest was located but luckily it
managed to hatch before Brer Fox found it and dug up the remains and
made a big mess.
Another of natures creatures was waiting on me as I arrived
at the beach gate to leave. This one was blue with turqoise eyes,
amazing how many colors of the very fairy like creatures there are.
In my own backyard this pretty green fellow with a Mondrian painting like pattern to his back.
of patterns the Zebra Longwings (Florida's State Butterfly) have been
plentiful this summer and right now (jumping to present time) I have a
batch of their eggs in my terrarium. I have had no luck myself seeing
any of these make it on my own Passion Vine. Wasps are getting
them I guess so will try artifically incubating them up to survival
The trip to Tennessee was swift and long. I gathered up
"The Golden Girls" loaded them into my rental car, grabbed as many
clothes as I could gather and swooped them up on the pretense of
picking them down to go to Grandaughter Nicki's wedding. I did not
know whether or not the interview with the State would see them being
accepted into a TennCare program to help them stay in their own home or
not. I did not know if this would be a forever move or not.
Just a leap of faith. Other changes were that the ATV had
broken down when I returned leaving me to finish out the season on
foot, hoping that the bad knee would continue to hold out for the
duration. The right knee, which I knew was on the way out, had shown signs of going bad fast after
the knee surgery, partially because it had to favor it so much afterward. The cortisone shot had made it all better
although I know temporarily. The mornings are a nice time to
catch deer still at play in the open grassy areas near the pier.
That and they will dart in front of you on the way in with the
light still morning dim. This morning two bucks graze the grass
They were aware I was there but as long as I didn't make any
moves they were content to just check me out occasionally, but any
movement on my part and they are quick to bolt out of sight. When
they cross the road in front of you there is hardly ever a time when
they can still be seen once you reach the spot you say them disappear.
The White Tail Deer and the Cottontails are critters that
need to be kept in control or else they eat too much of the other
animal food supplies and upset the balance of nature for other critters
like the cute little Marsh Rabbit which visited us for a while and
caused us so much fun with her friendly carrot eating habits. She
suddenly disappeared and we hope she has just gone on to
greener pastures, instead of going home to dine with Mr. Hawk who often
likes to swoop through the area. Bobcats which have shown a
decrease in numbers due to some cat type diseases were in charge of
keeping these numbers in check. Lets hope they reestablish their
place in the chain of life so that it does not loose its natural
life goes on as I become frightened by the memory problems I see in the
ladies which are now residing in my home. The fear is for my
own mind that is only about 20 or so years behind them. But,
for now, I have become proficient in giving very easy injections and
filing pill boxes for the week. I also think it is a gift to
spend this special time with two very precious ladies who have meant so
much to me throughout my whole life. My Aunt was not blessed with
children of her own, and my mom often says, "I gave all of you to Helen
when you were born to share" and she has...
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