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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Sandra Baker-Hinton
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
904-491-8040,  904-557-1195 cell
http://www.sandrabaker-hinton.com
http://www.ameliasanjongallery.com

The Jones Dozen will arrive on June 6 and every thing is pretty much in place. Thanks to all who gave and are giving and doing.  I can't believe the response we have gotten without a single mention in the newspaper, or TV just a blurb in this story and Facebook.  Request of prayers for a dry week, at least rain showers only at night, and lots of turtles laying eggs.  So far this has been a slow turtle season.  Cold water, I believe, has slowed it all down.  Only a handful of nests, only seven until last night and I don't know the count from that but none in the park.
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April was my birthday and anniversary month so lots was going on.  Not because I was born in that month but because it is Spring and there is always lots going on here.  I wanted to first of all post the photo of the Marsh bird painting I did for someone who lives on the island.  I plan on getting it delivered this week.  Should have already done it but it is a real handicap not having a van.  It requires borrowing one from a neighbor.

Here is is in its final form.  Lots going on here in foliage, and a nest that gave me a new respect for nest builders.  These big birds start out small but they quickly must have plenty of room to expand.  My birthday did cause one activity.  A friend who was visiting the island wanted to go to Cumberland Island.  She knew I was familiar with it since I used to go camping there and finally found a cottage to rent which we did for a long time, so she offered me a birthday gift of a trip to Cumberland Island to if I would go with her.


I love the place and always jump at the chance to get to return.  Along with two friends Linda and my fishing buddy Fran we boarded the Cumberland Island ferry and off we went.  It was the day before April Fools Day so not really April yet but since the trip was my birthday present it seemed like April.  It was actually pretty chilly as we headed out on the 9:00 trip.  Our light jackets were not really enough but still we did not want to have to carry a bunch of things.


The quiet little town of Saint Mary's disappeared as we motored down the St. Mary's River.


You always wonder about who lives in these waterfront homes so far away from anyone else.  It seems like a very serene life.


Nearby a dock which had seen better days was an excellent perch for a bunch of Cormorants and gulls.


On the way up the river we see the big Kings Bay Submarine Base and on a shell midden in the foreground is a flock of the big White Pelicans, nature and the ultimate in modern technology side by side.


Once we disembarked the ferry and did the usual tour of the old Ice House, refilled our water bottles at the fountain behind it, we left the others to strike out on our own tour of the South End of the island.  The area called the Duck Pond I had never really explored.  I decided we should start out there.  In the mind you can visualize all this as it was in its hey day all landscaped with water lilies and ducks swimming in the pond.  This old tree I am sure was there to see it all.  The fellow up the tree gives a perspective to the size of the tree.  There were surely more artisan wells back then before so many people were tapping into the underground water supplies and there was probably a fountain in the pond also.


As we strolled across the nearby lawn on our way to the old garden area we saw this very unusual tree.  It looked like a hand holding a rod and what it actually happened to be was a Live Oak wrapping around a Palm Tree.  Very unusual.


The Pergola was very bare looking, probably attributed to the cold winter.  But I have a great shot of it on another day when a horse stepped into the center of it with great light and I got it.  One of those shots that you get one chance to snap.


One of the more familiar points of interest to me is the wonderful fountain, which no longer has water in it, on the back of the oldest remaining building on the site.  It was part of the original Dungeness built much earlier than the Carnegies time there.


We decided to explore what was once vast gardens which fed the whole household, servants, and family and tutors for the children.  This was the Greenhouse with tabby lower walls and wood construction on the upper part.


The marsh just beside the gardens provided the fertilizer as the muck from the bottom, which is very rich from decaying plant life, was added to the soil to enrich it.  I would say that was truly organic gardening.  The calmness of the water perfectly reflected the image of the trees above.


The area where Fran is walking was row after row of crops planted.  Now it is grass for the horses.


To imagine this place as it "was" becomes easier when you have toured the museum at the dock area.  In it you will find lovely photographs taken when the splendid house was alive and well.  Cindy the granddaughter of Lucy told me she remembered long red drapes which she used to play around inside the house.


I found this flower, which we have identified as in the family of a native cactus type plant, called a Mexican Poppy, although it is believed to be native to our area also.  I had never seen this prickly flower before but if the pods had not been so prickly I would have taken some seeds.  It is also easy to see why it would be call a poppy as the bloom is very poppy like.


It is a tradition for any group I take to Cumberland Island to have their photo snapped at the gates entering the home place called Dungeness.  it took at little bit of doing as I found a branch to set the camera on and set the timer.  it took a few preview dashes for the camera to catch anything but my backside.


We came to see the wildlife, the magnificent beach, and amazing trees.  The wildlife which presented itself first was the wild turkeys, especially this Tom who led us on a merry chase as we quietly followed behind him.  He took us where only ticks do not fear to tread and we are very luck we did not collect a leg full.  We did do a tick check once we wandered back on the trail.  We still were in hopes of getting more than a turkey butt shot.


Following along behind Mr. Tom we discovered several falling down buildings left from the way back days, and explored their ruins wondering what the purpose of the building and that building was.  We know that Miss Lucy had a very independent lifestyle, even generating her own power in a day when not every home in American had electricity.  They entertained famous guests from the Northeast, educated their children with tutors who lived on the premises, and maintain and cared for a staff to make that all comfortable.  It was a different time and a different lifestyle than any of us will ever know.


We carefully made our way back to the more touristy area and a trip to The Grange which now belongs to the Park Service.  Hopefully it will be used and not allowed to fall in as so many of the buildings have.  This was private property until only a couple of year ago when it was. according to the contract with the park service and the owners, turned over to the National Parks System.  The owners tried to negotiate with the Park Service to allow them to use it on, but why would they do that when it was now theirs free and clear.  Those who signed that many year extension were all dead and gone and they accomplished what they intended and that was to have use of it for their lifetime, screw the descendants they had never even seen.


I never see the resurrection moss without recalling another story related to visitors to the island.  Cindy died last year and I kept her confidence on stories as long as she lived, but she said that John Kennedy, who visited the island, and loved it because he could for a change be unrecognized as he walked the pathways of the island.  It was this love of the place that led him to chose to get married there.  He was amazed according to Cindy by the Resurrection Fern and loved to go walking after a rain to watch it spring back to life.


Ahhh, Tom we finally have you with an almost non butt shot as you prance around the big lawn.


The objects of your flaunting of the tail feather (like the male showing off his muscles) are on the lawn, females lounging on the lawn.  A long walk but he finally found the object of his attentions.


Then a stroll toward the beach and we faithfully follow you in that direction to see what further adventures you have in store for us.  We are so intent on following you and seeing the horses ahead that we totally miss the sign telling us of the more scenic pathway to the Salt Marsh Boardwalk and trail which would have taken us on the "High Road" over the scenic tall dunes to see the great view of the Raccoon Keys on the South end of the island.


But never the less we did get to see the White horse whose fame had preceded with stories from the Amelia River Cruise Boat.  According to them the white colt was born into the ranks of one of the herds but because of his color the stallion rejected him and chased him out of the herd.  The next day his mother left also choosing her son over the head of her "band".  Mothers love with do that.  She and the white colt were spotted the rest of the summer off by themselves.  Whatever the rest of the story is, here is the white horse and now another white colt is being raised.  A stallion will select several females and form his own band.  He usually will have to steal they away from another stallion some of "his" women, which will often result in a tremendous fight.


A Park Ranger who came driving through from the beach directed us to follow the road to the beach and we chose to part ways with Mr. Tom.  The beach lay ahead.


This trail was bit wet and we found ourselves tiptoeing around the several puddles which almost covered the sand road in places. The patterns in the sand left by the displacement of the water as the ranger's truck had splashed through.  They reminded me of the tree patterns I knew awaited once we left the beach to travel the last part of the days journey, as we explored the South end of the island.


Once on the beach we could see South of us in the distance a couple of young yearlings were playing on the beach.  Beach goers, us included, started to walk that way for a better view and the hope off some great photos of the romp.


Nipping, rearing, running and playing like two year old children, ignoring the people who were walking toward them for the show.


The pier from our own Fort Clinch is above the Cumberland Island jetty which mirrors the jetty on our island and forms the channel we know as Cumberland Sound.


There is a lot to be said for the total freedom these horses have even though their lives may to be what horses in captivity is.  Its like my squirrels.  i could have kept them penned inside and their lives could have gone on to be twice as long as they will be outside in the wild but it is what is natural for them.


After a good long pay time they made their way back to the dunes to the the elder part of the herd.  Mom seems to check them over making sure the play has not been too rough for her baby.


Some sad images of life cut short on the beach as we examined the remains of a dolphin.  i thought the flippers especially interesting.  The head was missing as the wildlife people had removed it for examination to try to figure out what the cause of death was.  There has been some sort of bacteria, virus, who knows what that has killed a lot of the dolphins lately.


Another tragic scene of death was the image of three of many dead Cow Nose Rays were found on the beach.  probably hundreds had met their demise for some unknown reason.  My friend Lisa from beach stories in the past told me it was probably a beaching due to a mass migration activity.  They literally ran themselves aground and died.  In examining their mouth I was finally able to realize what the fossilized mouth plates of stingrays I find on the beach actually are.


The reason I find this beach so wonderful, so deserted, this was the busy end of the beach.  As you head further North you can then pick out your own mile of beach to sit on.  That is why the access to the island is so limited to retain as much as possible of the wildness that is still found there.


I began to slowly walk toward this horse hoping for a good photograph.   I quietly followed as he walked up the beach grazing on the beach grass which will be the undoing of his health in later years with its high salt content.  At one point he had turned with his head down then he seemed to look up at me.  I said when do you stop clicking the camera shutter when a wild horse is walking slowly straight toward you.  i stopped about mid point to his reaching me.  He reached me  and just stood looking at me eye ball to eye ball, probably expecting a treat, but my momma didn't raise no fools, and then he just turned and walked on up the beach and I walked along beside him until we both went on to rejoin our mutual friends.  Cindy had told me about a visitor to Greyfield, her childhood home, feeding the horses some cigarettes as the horses have developed a love for the taste of tobacco.  She had told the man to not do that but he continued.  When he ran out the horse gave him a nasty bit to the shoulder.  If there had not been wittinesses to his being told to stop he would have sued the hotel.


We rested and ate a snack on the benches that waited at the top of the boardwalk which led us from the beach back toward Sea Camp.  Once we were ready we moved on into the coolness of the deep woods of a maritime forest.  Nestled underneath the trees are where the camping visitors of Cumberland Island pitch their tents and live their week there, that is if you are of the kind who likes to keep a few of the amenities of home like a shower and enclosed regular toilets, although only cold water showers, and the sky for a roof it is still a very upscale from what back country camping is like.


Personally in my earlier days we made a combination trip.  We did the rough camping to the back country and the isolation that offered, feeling the freedom of the wild horses, but then we saved the last few days to be at Sea Camp to re-aclimate to a more civilized lifestyle. We would be told that we were one of maybe 10 campers at Stafford Beach Campground, but 99% of the time we would be the only ones there.  Never figured out where the other campers went.  It was truly an adventure in those days and why I learned to love this neck of the woods.  I prepared lots of freeze dried foods for the trip even spaghetti and we thought it was great.


Not just a canopy road here and there but a true canopy of huge Live Oak Trees wildly grown by mother nature kept our rapt attentions as we marveled at its beauty as we walked the approximately half mile back to the dock which would be our departure point.


Everywhere you looked was the beauty that we thankfully have had saved for us by the National Park System, as much as we like to find fault with it, this is one of its gems.


The whiteness of the tall dunes separates this very different world from the beach life such a short distance away.


I remember the pink lichen that grows on the trees here as being a first time for me to see it and it is still something I do not see on the trees on our island.


Then it was time to head back up the St. Mary's River and back to our own island.  Someone decided it was a good idea to feed the ever greedy gulls.  Fun for those on the top deck but can be not so fun to be in the areas below on the bottom deck.


Another flock of White Pelicans take flight when the wake from the Cumberland Princess goes motoring by, they go sailing over the marshes which surrounds and connects the watery world with the hammocks which have grown to a size where they are now an island with a name and one of my favorite names is Cumberland Island, a great place to visit.


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