Amelia Island holly

Amelia Island holly
Amelia sand dune

Thursday, December 12, 2013


'Tis the season on the Island.  Every weekend there is something to see, to enjoy.  Last weekend was the well known Christmas Home Tour, many of our victorian beauties decorated in period finery with innkeepers to match.  We wandered down to the Farmer's market on Saturday morning.  Parking right in front of the imposing Methodist church we noticed some doings there.

                                                           United Methodist Church
                                                                 601 Centre St.
                                                          Downtown Fernandina Beach
                                                                  Amelia Island

 Sure enough there was an incredible collection of Nativity Sets on display and called
"No Room at the Inn".  
Admission was free, donations for the homeless of our area.  

Nearly 100 nativity sets were arranged all around the Church interior, the little chapel and the parsonage next door.  What a delight !!!  How have we missed this other years?  This is just a sample of what we enjoyed.
 All was surrounded by Christmas flowers.  Each set had been donated by Church members.  Out on the victorian porch a group of church members serenaded with their carols.

The display began with the utterly simple.

                  To more elaborate ones like this one was set into an old stereo speaker which made a perfect sanctuary for it.

Here is an African set….

This was one of my favorites….

or was it this one, set on the window sill of the lovely tiny Chapel in this historic Church.

A wonderful Native American set

This beautiful set  below is indeed different.  I do not remember its origins.

There were many more, some very elaborate with shepards and Wise Men 
and Angels and landscaped settings.  

All of it within the victorian architecture of wood we no longer see. 
This historic Church is a beautiful edifice all on its own.  It was built in 1926, finally finished in 1952.
Its lovely Chapel  was dedicated in 1938.  

1927 cover of The Saturday Evening Post
my favorite photo for this Christmas
found on Pinterest

The No Room at the Inn display as well as the lovely card of the Madonna and Child
reminds us of the true Christmas meaning.
This Island has not forgotten it.

May this Christmas be full of its real meaning for you and yours
from this blogger and hers…


Friday, November 29, 2013


The day after Thanksgiving…unseasonably cold here yesterday,  but warmer today.

Perfect as today was downtown Amelia Island PJ party.  It is always a hoot and a holler and no different this year.  The sun was shining and smiles were everywhere. Also some neat music making…complete with our former mayor sporting pjs and his signature eye patch! 
 Foot stomping' music, too, down by the harbor.

Red and green and holly….and laughter…no matter your age.
If you are wearing pi's you get a discount in the shops.

Many folks coordinate their outfits….yep, there is a prize for best outfits!  I particularly
like the color scheme with these four.

Often whole families get into the act….

This is when we fall in love with our island all over again.  I somehow cannot see this happening up in a mall somewhere.  This is all about family time, slow time, laughter time and
you can get good Christmas shopping done to boot! 

All up and down the town, everyone is different and whimsical

Shop keepers dress up and offer tantalizing goodies, and snacks, and one even offers mimosas!  No crowds, no parking problems, no traffic jams….  This wonderful lady below has a decorated walker, she has no fear of anyone knocking her over in a rush to get to some bargain.  She and her neighbor get up early, and take the ferry from Jacksonville Beach, it is an annual trip for them.
When she hit a button on her hat,
 it started gyrating and jingling a Christmas tune.  

Sparkling pj's. bunny slippers and light-up hula hoops.

Bill, just released for the day?

Have a great after-turkey day from lil' ol' Amelia Island where the living is easy and sweet.  Just ask our pirates that can be found anywhere and everywhere on the Island….

Monday, November 11, 2013

On The Road to Discovering other roads….

After an unusual spate of rain and gloom, a hint of sun appeared yesterday. On the spur of the moment off we went on an off-island driving adventure.  It was determined that we would head along the old road to St. Augustine.  Not having been there for a good bit, and never taking our time, we set off to see what we could see.  The sun managed to follow.

Going to St. Augustine, one thinks only of that historic town and not the fascinating nature path you can take to get there.  Between the ocean and the intercoastal pathway lies one of the
few estuaries along the East Coast:

The Guana Tolomato Mantanzanas Reserve

We drove along with the estuary on one side and the ocean on the other.

National Ocean and Atmospheric Agency partners with the National Spatial Reference Agency to protect and study this precious waterway that has been here since Native Americans called it home.
Other researchers gather here as well to study this precious place, one of few estuaries left in the U.S.

For us it was educational, but it was also peaceful.  As you can see this pier was crowded with all kinds of wild life.  We were not allowed to get closer but you can see from the silhouettes what they are. Across the bay there were nesting eagles one could see through a telescope.

Eventually we reached St. Augustine and lunch with a walk-about. Another of our destinations was the chapel of Our Lady of La Leche there in the city.  Leche means milk in Spanish, and most are familiar with the La Leche league which promotes breast feeding for infants.  The Catholic Chapel itself is named after the nurturing qualities of Our Lady.  There has been a chapel here since the Spanish landed in 1565.  This first mission in the U.S., the Mission Nombre de Dios, includes the Chapel which is visited by over 200,000 pilgrims a year.  The site borders the river and is settled peacefully within groves of cedar and pine. Clusters of historic grave markers surround it.  We found it a quiet and restful place to sit and pray after our long day.  There are always so many things to pray for in our lives and also, for which to be thankful.  

                                        The little wooden statue of Our Lady of La Leche


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Goblins and Hoblins and Witches…oh my!!!

Halloween is a BIG DAY on the Island….this morning we headed downtown for the very special extravaganza.  Every year on Halloween eve morning come herds of preschoolers and their parents or sitters.  They have come to trick or treat all the shop owners who are often also in costume.  It is a delight.  We went by one two story brick building and the owners had lowered a rope with goodies in it for the kids.  Everyone has a great time…you can see that from this little unicorn's delightful smile.  We love it. Another of our Island traditions we try not to miss…  My little red camera was busy, as I asked Moms and Dads if I could photograph. They all agreed and each child obliged with a smile, 
it was a treat for the heart!

                             Even the littlest are arrayed, along with a pirate sibling too tired to walk.

                  Another precious Halloween moment as Wonder Child and her veggy buddy
                                                      reach for fallen goodies..

   As I said, shop owners get into it, like this fantastic clown.  
Note the blue skies today, it would dare rain.

Now, we have come to the end of our tale…
what was your Halloween eve like?

Friday, October 25, 2013


Find yourself an island, inside or out.  Everyone needs a place to go, to center, to appreciate. It does not have to be spectacular.  

Well, we found one that is spectacular, in its own simple way.  

 Here on Amelia Island we found such a place.  Now everyone knows it! This week in our local biweekly newspaper The News Leader we find out that we are #24 of 25 of the best Islands IN THE WORLD to visit!! This according to Conde Nast Traveler's Choice 2013. In the world, folks!   For the seventh consecutive year it was also voted among the top ten U.S. Islands in the Reader's Choice Awards along with Maui and Kauai, Nantucket,MA and Hilton Head, S.C.  

As I may have said earlier in this blog, we are only 12 x 3 miles in size with two not very long bridges that connect us to the "mainland".  Before we found Amelia, we had never heard of it.  When we visited friends here, our connection, we fell in love.  I guess a lot of other folks fall in love with it, too.
We are always discovering new little corners.  Just taking a short ride around or walking downtown or off the beaten path we get a sweet time-out.

I found this photo on Pinterest, it was not taken here.  But, I love the spotlight effect on the sea...and it works for me!  It tells the story pretty well. 

 So where is your island?

Saturday, October 19, 2013


One never knows what will be the surprise of a walk or drive to downtown Fernandina Beach.  Today we actually found the beating heart of this Island we call home.

 We began to see the empty boots along the street curb, then more and more and more on both sides of the road from down at the beach to just before downtown proper, nearly two miles.  Each boot had clipped to it the photo of an American fallen warrior whose life's blood was spent in defense of freedom along with his/her story.  The boots were neatly placed with an American flag standing proud in each of them. It must have taken all night to set them in place.

 We fetched the camera and decided to stop near a gathering of people.  There we discovered a young man who told us about what the boots meant.  His is the back of the shirt you see here:  he had tears in his eyes when he described how an Island  mother of a fallen soldier had taken it upon herself to identify each soldier slain in the line of duty and attach it to a boot. He was running for the fallen from the Kings Bay military installation nearby which was part of the remembering day.

This woman has approximately twenty five hundred boots and photos thus far and her goal is 10,000: one for each casualty and soldier slain since 9-11.  Some are only cards clipped to ropes as she has not yet been able to purchase all the boots. Further down in the exhibit were fireman's boots with identifying cards and flags as well. Her major goal is to take this all over the country.
 I cannot descibe the emotion this evoked in us.  It further angered us that a callous government could actually close off open air monuments to our war dead here and abroad in a senseless lack of respect for the enormous amount of blood shed to keep us all free.  We applaud the actions of WWII veterans to open the WWII memorial.

Recently, a letter appeared in our local paper that the mother of a young serviceman from nearby Yullee
had received.  Her soldier son had written that if she received that letter it would mean he had fallen.
Not to mourn said he, he had a wonderful mother. a wonderful life in a wonderful country.  He was 23 years old.

                            Makes one proud and so very small in the face of such heroism.

                                          Today we found the beating heart of an Island.

Monday, October 14, 2013

From the the ocean white with foam

We have been away from our Island for a bit leaving the sea for the mountains. Specifically, Blowing Rock North Carolina.  Traded in the heat of an Amelia summer for the coolness of the mountains, about 7 1/2 hours drive away.

                                           We left the sight of a beach sunrise in Amelia .....

...for the beauty of sunrise in the mountains with its cloud rise as the forest exhaled its breath. This was the view from our deck in a lovely rented home.  Different manifestations of the beauty of nature.

                 From the majesty of the ocean swells to the sweet lullaby of a mountain waterfall.

As Americans we are blessed from sea to sea with bounteous vistas of all kinds where we find repose and peace from daily worries and work.  Here in Amelia, we are not far from the mountains either in N. Carolina or Georgia or from ocean views.  We both were born in southeastern New England, not far from New Hampshire mountains and not far from the ocean in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  We are grateful for all of the blessings of the past, present and our tomorrows.

                                             It is always good, though, to come home.....

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Speaking of Healing

The aspects of healing found in exercise are myriad.  Consistent warm weather makes exercise a treat instead of a treatment.  Hence, the sweet all-year climate of Amelia Island with its soothing sounds and sights of sand and sea are definite assets for a healing process.

                                                     Above:   Nana Sand Dune in Amelia Island
                                                    Below: walk onto Jekyl Island Beach, Georgia

              But, even if one lives in a little paradise, it is always well to wander off to other places.

 For us those places are high above our Amelia landscape. They reside in the mountains of North Carolina.  It takes us about a 7 1/2 hour drive to get up to Blowing Rock, N.C.  At least once a year, more if we need it, we drive all the way up to sights like these.  We are blessed.  The sounds of the sea and the immense silence of the mountains heal our hearts and souls in different but beautiful ways.

Joseph Campbell said, "Follow Your Bliss."  This is what we try to do.  Sometimes we wander farther off, sometimes closer.  But, no matter, Amelia is home.

Even though the "Woods are lovely, dark and deep, we have promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep."  Robert Frost, one of my favorite poets said it so well.

                    Photograph of woodland landscape by my mother: Angelina Motta Souza
                      All others by myself.  She was my photographer and artistic mentor.
                                                               Amelia is home.  
                                          Below - our Island backyard in morning light.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Reflections on Healing

We are most fortunate on the Island to be only 45 minutes away from one of the three Mayo Clinics in
the country.  It is located in Jacksonville.  We usually take the ferry over to Mayport and eliminate about 26 miles one way.  There is usually much less traffic and less boring highway.  We like to stop in Neptune Beach for coffee, or for lunch at Lily's which is a charming little cafe sitting in the midst of a sweet courtyard bordering other shops.  It is delightful to people watch, or even to chat with folks at the next table.  Neptune Beach is right on the ocean and one block from Lily's you are on the sand of a beautiful beach.

Mayo Clinic is a premier diagnostic center, now with its own hospital.  It's campus is stunning. There are water gardens, meditation gardens as well as a non-denominational chapel which is pictured below.
I took the photo of the chapel with my ipad camera.  I was delighted to find that my icloud had worked and the photos were on iphoto on my Mac...a nice surprise.  Experimentation is still the name of the game with my iPad.  There are original pieces of stunning art everywhere at the Mayo.  Some days one can find a volunteer artist playing a classical piece on a grand piano in one of the corridors (I would never call them halls , they are much more than that...rather galleries)  Light flows in from huge windows with views of sculptures on green lawns.  All to help the healing that takes place there. We
primarily seek our medical care on the Island, but sometimes a complicated problem requires specialized help, so we come to the Mayo.  It was surely a consideration when we moved here.

At the Mayo all of the beauty, calm, and reassurance from friendly and professional staff means healers heal themselves as they heal others.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Time of the Hawk

The natural scene on islands have their own time schedules.  Here there is a season for butterflies, another for dragon flies and another for hawks to name a few.  The screee of hawks as they call from 
tree to tree is unmistakable.  Sometimes we will see a beauty up close and we have our treat for the day. The trees in our backyard seem to be a favorite haunt for them, or perhaps it is the naturalized garden 
boasting of small animal life that attracts them. One of the more humorous sightings is when the squirrels decide to play tag with juvenile hawks in front of our back windows giving us a ringside seat. The squirrels know the hawks are too young to be a threat and are still learning to stalk. 
 The game is on!

One day, I saw an article in our local paper about hawks with a photo of two of them in a birdbath.
Well, we upped that one with this photo of three of them in our own birdbath. I sent it in and lo and behold it made the paper.  Our Red Shouldered hawk trio were famous.

Living here in Amelia Island one can enjoy all kinds of bird life.  But, if you want
to go further afield, head for The Alligator Farm in St. Augustine which is
about an hour away.  The Alligator Farm boasts many local and exotic
alligator species.  But, for the photographer, the real draw in the
myriads of birds nesting in the trees over the pond.  There are loud cries as feathered parents
tend to their young.  It is bird chaos.  Warning: do not go on a hot day, the smell of
guana is overpowering.  I got this photo on a visit there, our only one thus far.
My husband says, once is enough!
I just read on their website that now they have a zipline over the Alligator Pond!
What an opportunity for the daredevils among us...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Old friends, new friends.....silver and gold.

Life on an island resembles that of a Village.  Prepare to amble and ramble, to slow your steps.  We have learned to do that.  Learned to let life flow and carry us along.  The gurus remind us of that maxim all the time, but sometimes it takes an island, like a Village, to bring that home.

Just yesterday is a case in point.  Getting up early before the heat we headed out for a walk around our neighborhood.  Almost home, we caught up with a new neighbor who invited us in for a  tour and chat. The tour was great and the chat told us we had much in friend!

Once home we decided to go out to breakfast.  As we started the car out of the drive, we were stopped by two fledgling pileated woodpeckers who were playing about on our front lawn  practicing hunting for bugs in two smaller trees. It was delightful! Of course, my camera was in the house! Thats a lesson I never learn.  The woodpeckers nest each year in a neighbors yard and we had not seen them this year. To our delight here they were!!

                                                         Photo borrowed from the Internet

Finally we drove down the road and arrived at a new found Breakfast place: The Mustard Seed Cafe at Nassau Health Store here on the Island.  We met the chef and staff and they personally attended to our specific orders while at the same time we got to know each other.  That included the fact that the chef is an experienced artist, like me.  We sat in front of a beautiful mural which an artist friend of mine had completed this past year.  While we awaited our omlets, I shopped for items I needed.  Our omlets were superb!  And I found what I wanted in the aisles.

Then we were off to our grocery store.  Of course, we met friends there and concluded some volunteer planning discussions as well as sharing the goodies with good prices that day.  The checkout folks are old friends, too.  No long lines here.  No hassle. 
 Slllloooowwww living done up southern style.

By this time our morning had gone the way of delightful mornings and we arrived back home ready for an afternoon siesta.  If we had gone downtown we would have no doubt had more adventures. That is the way it is on a little Island.  It is a good feeling, a smiling feeling, a feeling of home.

      Old friends, new is silver the other is gold.  Remember that from your childhood?
The Island is doggie-friendly.  Often, shop owners and tenders are assisted by their own pooches who
perform a welcoming function all their own.  Here one of our favorites 
welcomes another just-the-right size customer.

            When I looked up synonoms for small I found such words as: fine, without force or
                         loudness, fragile.  Yes, that sounds like our Island and our life here.