Tonight, we discovered “Sea Pansies”.
Sea Pansies are small creatures that bioluminesce- they are the fireflies of the sea. They look like sand and you can’t see them at all in any sort of light. It has to be dark.
We went on our own Turtle Walk tonight- trying to find a sea turtle nesting. We’re determined. So, we set off at 9:30 at night- Jack and Ray, Jack’s parents, Elizabeth and Emily- armed with red light sticks, because the sea turtles can’t see red- and white light scares them.
It was a bit different than a few nights ago because we weren’t following anyone; we weren’t depending on anyone else to tell us what to look for. The boys had one light and ran all over the place, looking for tracks; the girls lagged behind, talking and swirling their light around; and the adults tried to keep an eye on all of the activity. We walked. And we walked. No turtles- although we did run into the Georgia Sea Turtle Center Turtle Walk and they didn’t find anything either, but reported that there were six “false crawls” last night- which means that there are at least six turtles out there who are wanting to lay eggs at any moment. And so, we walked. We strained our eyes, looking for tracks and large masses of dark. We were looking for turtles.
All of a sudden, Ray gasped and turning off his light, scooped up a small patch of sand, to find that a small dot, about the size of a pencil eraser was glowing in his hand. Compared to the “sparkles” that we caught glimpses of the other night, this thing was sizable- big enough to hold and to carry.
The cold, blue/white light of the creature was magical, sitting in his palm, lighting up his hand. We turned on the red flashlight to view it up close, and it would vanish, looking just like a piece of sand, completely indistinguishable from the other sand chunks on his hand. Turn the red light off, and his hand lit up like he was holding a fragment of a star.
We asked the guide of the tour nearby what it was called, and she said a “Sea Pansy”. Not quite the name I would have picked, but then “Sea Star” is taken, and “sea creature that looks like sand but glows” is probably too long. And all of a sudden, our mounting frustration vanished and was replaced with awe. We started finding more of them and even found a small colony on a shell- little bits of glowing light all over the beach. Apparently, the storm today had stirred up the sand and brought them in.
And I thought of how so many of our children’s gifts are hidden- how disability and behavioral problems and harsh sunlight obscures the magic and the marvelous. How sometimes we need a fresh view, a little bit of night, a different perspective- even a storm or two. How you sometimes have to deviate from what you were looking for and admire what you find. How our frustration can vanish as we marvel at what they’ve become.
How you can think you have ordinary sand and in reality, you have a shining handful of light.