It wasn't uncommon for my brothers,friends and I to pile into cars and go somewhere...anywhere, just to get out and see what there was to see. It could be anywhere, but one night we decided on the beach.
The beach was around 30 miles away. At night, when there wasn't a holiday, the beach could have long stretches where there was nobody to be found. That's what we looked for. Not that were anti-social; we didn't want to disturb anyone, or be disturbed. We might want to shoot some fireworks, or pistols. That night was just to get out and fritter away some time.
We pooled our money, piled into a friend's van, grabbed a few six-packs of beer and took off for the beach. We listened to music on the way, which was a mixture of Edgar Winter, The J-Giles Band and any FM we could pick up on the radio. Eight track was the technology, so the songs would have a skip where the tracks changed. Some would fade out and fade in on the next track. Others would just switch, which was an accepted annoyance. After all, it was stereo and affordable stereo was only a little over ten years old.
We arrived at the beach a little before midnight. As we climbed from the van, I noticed flashes of light on the horizon. Nocturnal thunderstorms were forming on the sea breeze front. It was the nightly summer event where the cooler air from the land lifted the warmer air over the Gulf of Mexico. Lightning flashes would light the entire clouds, which climbed as I watched. The light northerly breeze was keeping the mosquitoes at bay and only allowed small lazy waves to break near the beach. The wind would eventually completely calm the Gulf, but that was hours away. For now, the occasional wave break quietly broke the silence.
I looked at the bright stars and hazy brilliance of the Milky Way. This was a treat, since the usual night sky of the city hid all but the brightest stars. Opportunities like this were rare, so I spent a few moments just staring in amazement.
Eventually, I looked back towards the Gulf. My eyes were now accustomed to the dark, which offered a better view of the water. There was something different. It was though there was a strong, distant light reflecting off the waves as they broke. I turned towards the land and back towards the water. Someone spoke: "Look at the waves; they're glowing." They were. There was some type of bioluminiscent organism in the water. The waves disturbed whatever it was, and the result was a flash of greenish blue light.
I had to get closer. I walked to the waters edge and marveled at the sight. Fish left streaks in the water. The occasional wave would light like a dim fluorescent tube. My footprints in the wet sand remained for a few moments. I waded to my ankles and created my own universe with the slightest movement. Large streaks out between the sand bars were the larger predators on the hunt. I imagined it was a feast, since their prey had no place to hide.
For about an hour, it was as though we were visiting another planet. The glowing water and thunderstorms on the horizon were as alien as any planet imaginable. Swarming mosquitoes brought us back to reality as the wind became lighter. We didn't have any repellent and our beer was gone; it was time to go.
That was the first and last time I saw the "glowing waves". Maybe I should get out more; take some time just to go see what there is to see. Next time I'll bring some mosquito repellent.