Our Agate Day by Delaine Gately

Northwest summers are beautiful but when you are near the Straits, warm days are few and far between. We set up camp at the high point between the river and the beach and bundled up to greet this day. My love started a fire and made coffee.  The morning chill brought everyone to the campfire. The smoke followed us as we huddle around its warmth. After a warm breakfast we embarked on a walk out to the river.

The sun broke through the mist and the fog swirled and disappeared.  The river’s beauty was mesmerizing. The ebbing tide pulled the emerald green waters, and the smell of salt filled the air.  The river washed across the sandy bars and exposed precious stones. They were washed smooth by the water’s perpetual flow.  We used driftwood for chairs and sat by water to plan our day.

A young eagle swooped and plucked a good size fish from the water.  He landed on a sandy knoll across the river and began to tear at the flesh.  Two more eagles join the feed. They are all young. Probably nest mates.  They threw the fish into the air and with wings flapping the feeding frenzy began.

A family of river otters began to frolic and play in the cold waters.  For the otter, finding food is serious business, but they played all while feeding on small fish and crab.  The three smaller otters fought over their plunder as they ran up on the beach to eat.  Then they turned and rushed back to the water and the hunt began again.

Time drifted as we sat watching.  The otters swam and dove in unison. They glided through the water with such ease.  The eagles take flight and the otters slip into the marshy brush at the river’s edge.  The show is over.

This was a special day. We were all together.  It was far too cold for sunbathing so we decide to beach comb. We planned a treasure hunt, a hunt for the elusive golden agate. The challenge was made. Who can find the biggest and the best agate?

The treasure hunt begins.

The sun danced on the beach and we hoped it would expose the agates. The big one was out there somewhere waiting to be found. A good agate is really quite rare. The sun’s light creates prisms that reveal the clarity of the stone. We searched the beach as if we were looking for nuggets of gold.

Precious time was spent together as the day flashed by.  One granddaughter found a Swiss army knife. It was like brand new. We all wondered where it came from and how it got on the beach. We laughed and made up stories of pirates and their dastardly deeds. But the knife’s true story will always be a mystery.

Like all good things, our beach combing came to an end. With pockets full of treasures we started the long walk back to camp.  We all agreed to wait until after dinner to see who won the contest. We checked the mouth of the river hoping to see the otters again. There were fresh tracks but the otter family was nowhere to be seen.

Hunger pushed us on and we raced up the trail back to the camp. We dry off and eat a good snack. Some nap in the afternoon, others play cards and the little girls took turns riding the quad through the sand dunes and down the beach.  We agreed to meet later and compare our finds.

I love to be in the woods listening to the wind moving through the trees and the birds carrying on conversations between the great cedar branches. I snuggled up with a book but soon drifted off into a comfortable afternoon nap.

A new chill filled the air and the shadows grew longer. The camp began to stir and we started the evening fire.  We all did something to help put dinner together. Good food and good company brought us back to our great hunt.

We evaluated our finds. It was a lovely collection of stones. There were some really nice stones, but no one found a truly clear nugget. There are no big ones, not even one. They were all small and clear, very nice but there was no winner.

We failed in our quest.

As darkness fell we settled around a crackling fire. There was happy talk and much laugher, and of course the cribbage games began.  The night closed in, marsh-mellows toasted on the fire and warm cocoa was sipped from hot cups. Everyone agreed stargazing would end a perfect day.

We all bundled up and with flashlights in hand walked back to the river’s edge.  There was a golden light in the sky, and the river glowed.  In camp we had not seen this illumination.   Our campsite was sheltered; it was surrounded by the tall cedars. Those grand trees blocked out the light of the moon.  Only at the river edge could we see a golden moon silhouetting the trees.

It was beyond beautiful.

We stood in awe. Wisps of incoming fog hallowed the moon and it was magical.  The moon appeared transparent and golden. We turned off our flashlights and settled down on the sand. No one spoke.  The moon slipped behind the trees and slowly disappeared as the black night moved in. We laid back in the sand and watched the stars become bright.

As we walked back to camp we were filled with a warm feeling of family. We found our elusive golden agate. We saw the Agate moon. It was like a golden nugget in the night sky and it belonged to all of us.

A memory was made that special day, being together and
the Agate Moon’s glow gave it an exceptional place in our
memories; we will remember. “The Agate Moon” and the day
we call our “Agate Day.”