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

Thanksgiving has come and gone as I still try to reach the end of Turtle season in my story writing.  Hopefully you will not get impatient with the dragging of time with my stories.  I just can't seem to skip ahead without covering it all.  The Girls were back home in time to cook Thanksgiving Dinner for the family there.  With Grandchildren, Julie and Jeremy, there to help get it together, Mom got her months long wish to have her dream Thanksgiving menu prepared.  A few shortcuts with store bought pies and rolls helped.

T-Shirts will be back in a few days to the gallery and will be to you ASAP afterward so you will have time to mail those for Christmas gifts.  We can even ship them direct to your destination if you tell us ahead.  I will even wrap them up for you.  The delay happened because when it came time to order the local decided I did not have enough shirts for him to fool with without charging a price that would have been prohibitive so I had to scramble to find someone else who could do it silk screen and reasonable.  So what do you do, you call on family.  Bruce's cousin up in Chattanooga is printing them for us.

Turtle Trot painting prints are available in various sizes for purchase in time for the Holidays.  $99.00 price for the large size inmatted and $325 for it framed.


Where I live Fall has a way of sneaking up behind you, and you must keep reminding yourself that it is here, because, it, for all the world, just continues to feel like summertime.  Only the quieter streets, near empty beaches, and some evenings cool enough to sleep with the windows open, tell you that Summer has indeed slipped away.  The threat of hurricanes nears the end so that is a long, slow sigh of relief.  

I could say the Fall colors are in the sky with the golden colors that are there, but then those colors could be there on any given day, no matter the season.

I began to see a good many sunsets from the beach with the brilliant oranges of the Fall skies glowing from the  other side of the island, just peeking over the dunes, but reflecting a much softer hue toward the Eastern sky.

Several of the Moon Jellies have washed in on the beach this time of the year.  This one was very transparent with the runoff patterns from the receding water forming around it.

The Eastern sky, as soft as the Western sky is brilliant, with pinks, lavenders, and blues.  Even the wet beach is the reflected pink of the sky.  

Only the breaking wave gives a contrast to the pale colors of a beach side sunset.  I remember from the days of going to the beach as a youngster that I loved being on the beach when it was the end of the day.  Since we camped on the beach side I never realized the brilliance on the other side of the island.  As an adult, staying in a cottage on the Western side of Cumberland Island, I began to be torn by the decision of whether to stay on the beach for my favorite time of the day, or head back to wind up the day by washing the sand off, putting on clean clothes, and unwinding with the anticipation of the light show that might be yours as dinner was prepared with the brilliant riverside sunset.  Where I live now I can have it either way as I can see the river from the street in front of my house and I can see the oceanfront condos when I look eastward.  Quite a dilemma to have.

Even the simplest thing like a piece of marsh grass misplaced by the tides looks like a thing of beauty in this light.

The reason for the evening walks on the beach was to check the Green Turtle nest which was due at anytime.  It was of special concern because the dredge pipes crossed in front of it and although the pathway underneath was defined by a black plastic sheeting fence, directing them underneath the pipe, I knew from experience, it would be easier for them, since the pipe made it unnaturally dark from their viewpoint, blocking the brightness of the moon on the water.  I felt if I could tell when they were hatching, then I could help them find their way without them sapping so much energy wandering around the semi-enclosure searching for the water.

Some sunrises also are very pastel.  This one especially was and the reflections on the watery sand was a double dose of what was above.

A pair of Ground Doves, smaller and a colored darker with darker orange legs, than the more common Mourning Doves, seemed to always be at the end of the boardwalk.  The soft light and their shyness made them a hard target to photograph.

Many migratory birds are in town, and this one is what I call a "Yellow Butt", but I think it is supposed to be a "Yellow Rump", although this angle does not show his very yellow behind.  I see them in my backyard but not usual to see them on the beach.

This week the Golden Girls had stayed with my sister, since Bruce had gone to Chattanooga to have a long overdue visit with his Mom, and would not be home in the daytime with them.  I would join them for dinner, then go home to sleep in my own bed, and have a bit of respite from the care taking.  Dinner at my sister's put me in the right place to keep check on the Green Turtle nest which was a short walk away.

The view from the end of the boardwalk which usually framed in the view of the water was now interrupted with the long rusty pipe which was carrying tons of sand and water through its innards daily and into the night.

The other end of the pipe was quite a scene.  I had never seen the dredge process up close and personal like I did this time.  It was both exciting and terrifying to see what was happening.  I thought of all the tiny organisms which live just underneath the surface of the beach sand, and I wondered what fate awaited them with the tremendous pressure of the torrent of water so forcefully discharged from the pipe creating a real white water rapid in front of it.  So many of the shore birds depend on these small shell fish, horseshoe crab eggs, and sea critters for their food.  How can they survive this?  I do believe that it is possible for the critter to escape and return to the shoreline but many have to be destroyed.  ( Jump ahead to present time, I know that we found sand fleas just underneath the new sand weekend before last while fishing right in the spot where this had happened.)

It was a race each morning to get to the beach in time to catch what might possibly turn out to be a great sunrise.  Often the best part of the show was before the sun rose.

Some of the best light shows were also on the water especially if you could catch a breaking wave just right.

Catching the Pelicans in a great pose was also a challenge.  Sometimes they could slip right by you while you looked into the lens at the sunshine, and sometimes they would be too low underneath the sky color to be visible in a photograph.  But sometimes you were lucky and caught them just right.  Throw in a moving shrimp boat in the background and you have had a good morning.

This beautiful creature was waiting with his master for his mistress who was beach combing off the other end of the boardwalk.  I gave them an update on her location.  I am sure he was not happy to be excluded from all the beach fun as dogs are banned from the beaches in the park, but are welcome everywhere else.

Flocks of migrating birds regularly reminded us it was the season for Fall migrations.

Even without clouds the sky could still be spectacular.

A very large inflated red orange buoy had washed in, probably a marker for someone's crab traps.  I hated to see the pink spot among the brown and gray native barnacles attached to the buoy.  Although pink is pretty, it tells me that these invasive barnacles from the Pacific Ocean are making themselves at home here on our side of the world.  These barnacles along with so many other unwelcome invaders are carried attached to the bottom orand in the hulls of world traveling ships, and either are released, or fall off into our waters where they multiply, unchecked by natural predators.

The Sea Oats now have the brown of Fall's mature seed heads instead of the greens of Spring and Summer.

One of the most reliable signs of Fall is the beautiful pink of the Muhley Grass which is native, but also cultivated varieties are used to brighten up many of the area homes and commercial landscapes.

It is also time for the Homecoming Parade for the local High School as The Pirates (of course they would be called that) get prepped for all the festivities for the evening ahead with a ballgame presided over by Kings and Queens. 

Fall higher tides leave deposits of shells on the beach along with other beach treasures especially fossils which are my favorites to find.

Fall brings several kinds of Golden Rod.  This wasn't one of the regular ones so a bit of research and exchanging of Facebook opinions finally decided that it was indeed a variety of Golden Rod, but with more of a cluster type of bloom rather than the spiky type.  It seems that Golden Rod is often unjustly blamed for allergic reactions due to the pollen of the Ragweed, which blooms at the same time.  Actually the Golden Rod pollen is too heavy to be blown around.  It can cause an allergic reaction, but from handling it, not its pollen in the air.  Thankfully I see very little Ragweed down here.

We were now digging the Green Turtle nest because it was laid 76 days ago and long overdue.  A lone hiker passes and does not even see us as we were digging a foxhole type of pit behind the dredge pipe in search of the nest and eggs of our Green Turtle lady.

A new type of Jelly was found on the beach.  Someone else told me they saw a big school of very large flat jellys near the park pier during the same time as this one washed onshore.  I have tried to research what type of jelly.  One possibly is a "Pink Meanie".  An appropriate name for a not so nice Jelly, which likes to eat other jellies and is not known to be in our waters, however they had been spotted in South Florida and could easily ride the Gulf Stream currents north.

This big Ring Billed Gull was in for a bit of an adventure that neither of us expected.  They are very opportunistic and are especially adept at stealing meals from humans as well as each other.  One swooped down at the Marina one day taking a piece of chicken out of my sister-in-law, Denise's' hand.  He was about to ply his skills to the breakfast of a brownish colored gull nearby, who had snagged a Bonnet Head Shark, probably probably left on the beach by a fisherman.

As the other gulls hovered above waiting for a chance at it the larger Ring Billed took off after the brown gull who grabbed his feast and tried to escape.

He was overtaken by the larger gull and lost his grip on breakfast.

Although the Ring Billed Gull was able to retrieve his booty he eventually dropped it and also lost his chance at an easy breakfast.

The now food less gull will wait until another opportunity manifests itself.

A surprise, with a late release of a Sea Turtle by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.  It seems "Captain" had spent 3 years at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center with the idea that he would never be able to be released into the wild, but he had other ideas.  They were in the process of finding an aquarium in which to place him.  He had been found in the Mayport Basin where all the Naval Ships are docked, hence his name, "Captain".  He was badly injured with propeller wounds including some spinal injuries.  He was equipped with weights to assist him to be able to dive and retrieve food, like a scuba divers belts helps them dive.   Without this ability they will starve.

As luck would have it Captain's weights accidentally fell off.  He had a bit of an abrasion from wearing the weight, so it was decided to leave it off for a few days to heal the boo-boo.  The staff soon discovered that Captain could dive for his food without the weight, thus the decision was made that he could now make it on his own in the wild...and that is the rest of the story about this unexpected release of this very lucky Sea Turtle.

It was a day with wind, rough surf, and a steep slope to the beach, making it too difficult to be able to release him beyond the breakers as is the usual routine.  Then came the happy signal that Captain was on his way.  Susan and I had taken the Golden Girls to the release and Helen, especially was really excited to see it.  She did get her dose of big and small turtles while she was here.  I hope that her weak memory skills will allow her to remember some of her fun things while she was here.

The decision had been made, with great misgivings on my part, that they be returned to their home.  Homesick and calling everyone they knew to "come and get them" had made me feel like a jailer.  They were quick to tell me that they appreciated all I had done, but this was not "home".  With some safety features to be added to the home and some home care it is hoped that they can safely live by themselves for a while longer.  I just hope that is the case.  I feel very handicapped trying to micro-manage from such a long distance, with the greatest concerns being for Helen's diet as I knew how hard it was to keep her from eating the wrong things with her diabetes, and Mom's cooking with her eyesight and memory lapses.  She set a roll of paper towels on fire the first time she cooked once back in her own kitchen.  Last night after Midnight I was texting messages back and forth with their caregiver and my brother, the Doctor, and my Niece Julie who was there visiting.  With Thanksgiving, Helen had probably been eating the wrong food all day.  She nor my mom can understand, nor remember, that starches and sugars can be one and the same.  Her blood sugar level was over 400 last night and this morning was still at 300.  When Billy, the next door neighbor and friend, who is managing her meds (he also is diabetic), called back to check on her later in the morning, she was getting ready to eat peanut butter and graham crackers.  He urged her to not do that, but to go get some green beans instead.  Whether she heeded the warning or not we will never know because she will not remember 10 minutes later if she did or not.  And therein lies the cause for concern.  

(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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