Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shimmering, Silver Magic

I was about 7 years old and when my dad woke me up from a deep slumber.

"Wake up, kiddo!" he said.

It took a few seconds for my mind to click and then wide-eyed excitement hit me.

"Are they really running?" I whispered.

"Yep! Let's go!"

I hopped out of the top bunk in our small camper trailer careful not to bump my mom who was sleeping below. I followed the beam of my dad's flashlight to my brother who was sitting on the camper step groggily putting on shoes. I perched beside him and slipped on my damp and sandy canvas sneakers. 

It took less that 30 seconds to cross the dry sand that led to the ocean's edge. As I continued to followed the beam of Dad's flashlight I was astonished. The shoreline was covered with thousands of silver little fish squirming and shimmering. The light from the flashlight seemed to reflect from fish to fish so that the entire shore was alive with sparkling movement.

The Grunion were running!

The California Grunion come ashore to spawn and lay their eggs in the wet sand. I highly doubt they understand why this is such a fascinating event for humans to witness.
That night is clearly etched in my mind. It was the first and only time that I have seen the Grunion run but it occupies a safe place in my mind. Though the Grunion arrive with some regularity the exact hour can be hard to predict. I have searched on yearly visits to Pismo Beach along the California Coastline but I have yet to see the remarkable event again.

I think memories like these are treasures of childhood. Like my own childhood, my children will never have the most expensive toys or the latest video game system but they will have cherished memories that will last far longer. It is my hope that one of those memories will be the amazing run of the Grunion. This is why I continue to slip on my damp and sandy sneakers and peer at the shoreline late into the night whenever I find myself in Pismo. Someday, just maybe, I can share the silvery magic of the Grunion with my kids.

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