Stars are sparking from my fingertips. I dip my hand into the night waters of Tomales Bay under the constellation bright sky, close my hand in a fist, then open it wide and the silvery droplets fly. Magic. Bioluminescence.

The starry starry night is so far away. Reach up and no matter how much I stretch, I cannot touch the sparkle. But tonight? The waters bear the stars. We follow our guide past the the far side of island where harbor seals haul out for the night, and then it happens. The glitter skitters off our kayak paddles. We’re stirring up stars, creating our own constellations.

(Credit: bioluminescent bay @fajardo)

As we paddle into the heart of a saltwater universe, the glints and sparks become molten silver. Stir the surface of the water with the flat side of our paddles and we’ve entered the Milky Way. Galaxies shine and roll with every touch.

Here we are –four writers meeting up after hours of solitude where each of us wrestle with words, thoughts and seek elusive inspiration. Tonight, we paddle with the Big Dipper hanging above the ocean that roars two miles away at the mouth of the bay and we’re simply children in a state of wonder. We laugh in delight as the magic flies from our fingers.

To know even a bit of the science behind bioluminescence only adds to the sense of the fantastical –that living organisms called dinoflaggellates emit short flashes of light.  Ah, and we humans think we know so much! Try snapping your fingers in the dark. Nothing. But snap them among the living waters at night, and the stars streak away and you’re a wizard, a witch, or even a goddess.

(credit: image from
(credit: image from