This is as real as magic gets.

Tonight the Pacific's waters are inexplicably rich with nutrients, to the point where plankton have grown exponentially dense and glow when they crash into each other with the breaking of waves, or the friction of the sand as waves recede, or as feet strike the wet sand or curious hands splash in the water or any of a number of things my friends and I try.

Bioluminescense. I think I misspelled that, but even if it were spelled correctly it would fail to completely describe the scene.

We're a little drunk, but this would be cool—way cool, and equally awe-inspiring—if we were stone-cold sober. In fact, as I sober up, my awe increases—this is no drug-addled hallucination, this is real. This is Nature at her most awesome, to the point where it doesn't seem pretentious to capitalize Her Name.

We danced, we wrote in the sand with hands and feet, threw handfuls into the surf and watched the splashes spark and glow, then fade, feeling like gods, or at least the priesthood of the dark, glowing mystery before us. I got a wet butt sitting in the sand writing notes about the sight. Greg took pictures. Zeke began a story. We were all inspired in our own way.

Imagine the prettiest thing you've ever seen. Now make it glow. I almost always enjoy the waves crashing on this rocky beach near my house, but I'm usually afraid of the ocean at night. I love Mama Ocean, and she is consistently indifferent to me. She can kick my ass six ways from Tuesday without even noticing, and I respect that.

In that day's light, however, the plankton-ridden waves had been murky brown, and their spray faintly pungent. That night, they were too magical to resist.

—15 July 2001, early a.m.

Updated 12 October 2002 in the aftermath of the Portland neoimperialist nodeslam.