thought I could show my 17 year old daughter the littoral actions of Decatur Island by deep night. Decatur is located north of Seattle, about 70 miles, in the San Juan archipelago. We have a house there.

We trudged to the silent shore, the tide deep, moving the kayak far down the beach to set off, at watersedge. Resting high powered flashlights on the beach,these guided our way through the darkness, gearing up to push off from the shoreline. We paddled away, silently. Steering our slim prow, we observed, peering into the darkness. Her flashlight reflected off the surface of the water and cast a shimmering glint into the trees overlooking the water. A heron, alarmed in the silent night, flew off, coughing its prehistoric cry of warning, its long wings beating long in the dark. Sending beams of studious light into the rich broth below the kayak, we observed the passing scene beneath.

Crabs ambled and fought their submarine battles, claws raised in gladitorial spectacle. Ghostly shrimp peered upwards, their eyes, twin luminescent beacons, their appendages ambling in the motion of walking. In water.

The leathery kelp was guided by an unseen flux, the river underneath. Barnacles reached out in their rhythm. Fish flitted. Above the shoreline, life popped and crackled, water lapped and licked the stones.

Above, the stars cast their heavenly net, shining their array into the greenblack waters. It was at this moment, when behind in the stern of the kayak, that I caught a glimmer of a strange, lit meandering thread, a spiders webbing, a ripple extending out, and out, showing itself. Abruptly, I noticed that the dripping paddles created miniature, shimmering dimpled ellipses. Of light. The dipped paddle caused storms of lucent pinpoints, galaxies of winking, drifting stars, eddying and carried below in maelstroms below the still surfaces. Disturbed kelp, wafting in disruption, created a wavering column of light, deep, deep down, a tapering constellation, to their roots upon the dark stones far below. A rising charge of joy surged through me.

The revelation was exhilarating. The spectacle was breathtaking.

Splashing, dragging the paddles, the kayak itself became a galactic voyager in a luminous miasma, celebrated by millions of bioluminescent organisms, acknowledging our passing, then in quietude, winking out.

In the beginning, Madeleine said: “What should I look for?”

I responded: “Let’s see!”
And we did…

Thanks for listening,
Tim Girvin