Bioluminescence

Two a.m. A full moon casts a bright ribbon over the Gulf, sand sinks under my feet as the waves wash away, and everything shimmers in a cool shade of blue. We’re here to see the sea turtles hatch, to learn lessons from these tiny leaps of faith and their struggle to reach the sea.

There are predators about, ghost crabs that eat baby turtles. Our children are horrified. They chase the mean crabs all over the shore, looking a bit like crabs themselves as they scurry, bent-over and snapping their kitchen tongs. They are amazingly agile and their mission is pure. The crabs don’t stand a chance.

We come to a nest. It’s just a small slump in the sand, but underneath lie hundreds of little miracles biding their time. We look for movement, find none, and stroll on.

Eight nests later we have a plastic pitcher full of crabs, but we haven’t seen a single turtle. The children break for the water. The waves are dreamy; they glide onto shore with the genteel rustle of taffeta skirts. Our children splash right in.

Immediately they stop as one and gawk at the water. Splash again, swing their hands and knees, gawk some more. I scoop up a ball of water and toss it into the air; it falls, bouncing into pieces against my hands. Neon green sparks shoot like fireworks. Bioluminescence, Jim explains. Tiny sea creatures emitting light.

Turning for home, I take Jim’s hand and feel another spark of nature, one that hasn’t faded, not in thirty years. The world is full of miracles.


Comments
  • Adrian Fogelin February 4, 2011 at 6:07 am

    While living aboard a leaky wooden cruiser in the Keys we observed the scintillas of light that phosphoresced in the water. Spinning and twisting, they gave us something to watch while standing on the bow of the “Ever So Discreet,” casting a baited hook toward the mangroves that edged Snake Creek.

    Your descriptions of the sea at night are beautiful–but I love the last paragraph best.

  • leigh February 4, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Thanks, Adrian. Your description of Snake Creek isn’t too shabby either.

    Love is definitely one of God’s better ideas, and Jim evidence of His best work. But that night our children discovered bioluminescence — and out of the blue like that — reaffirmed their wonder in nature. Jim’s parents traveled all over the world. Their descriptions of rowing one night into a dark cave and discovering glowing walls has stayed with me for years. One of these days I’ll pack myself off to New Zealand and do a little gaping myself.

  • tgumster February 4, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Bioluminescence takes me to Wyoming night skies in summer, a moment as fleeting as hatching sea turtles.

    In my moment, there are coyotes who call out on nights with or without a moon. I lie on my back near Canyon Creek, the stream that drops underground to get a rest from giving life to a high-plains desert. When we are older, neither of us returns.

    Yet, in that one night of youth, there is so much darkness I watch the stars dance in the waters of Canyon Creek. Maybe it’s a dream, maybe it isn’t.

    I rollover into the body next to mine. It is the time of youth.

    Thanks, Leigh, for giving me bioluminescence; it took me to a place I haven’t been in decades. Who knew?

  • Leigh Muller February 4, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Before this moment, I’d never been to Wyoming, Tgumster, but I have now. In those few lines you awakened each one of my senses and every bit of my heart. There’s a novel in there and I hope you write it.

  • Adrian Fogelin February 4, 2011 at 9:37 am

    The best we have to give each other may well be our stories.

    Thanks you two.

    Now I’d better buckle down and finish my latest blog post–and then I’ll return to the book I’m working on, a story about a kid with a possibly magical hat.

    Real life fuels the stories that live only in our imaginations. Leigh, Karen, good luck with your own real-made-up stories!

    • Leigh Muller February 4, 2011 at 10:36 am

      Real life plus coffee fuel mine, Adrian. And chocolate is my diesel. :)
      Now hurry and finish that blog post. I can’t wait to read it. Ditto the boy with the magical hat. It IS magical, you know, no ‘possible’ about it.

  • tgumster February 4, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Yes, thanks for this morning’s stories, Leigh and Adrian. You’ve set the tone for my day, and as I write, I hear your voices. Thank you both for creating such comfortable blog communities.

    “Yes!” I exclaim, usually aloud, when I receive an email announcing a new post. I read it immediately, as I want to know what either and both of you are thinking. It’s always a gift.

  • Leigh Muller February 4, 2011 at 10:32 am

    That exuberant “Yes!” is echoed here, Tgumster, each time I receive notice that someone has commented. It’s heartening to know people are reading Roadhouse, and even better to share the view from their door. Happy writing.

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