My grandfather gave Brimstone Island in Penobscot Bay in Maine to my grandmother for an anniversary present in the 1940s. We used to go there as a family for picnics. Here is a memory from my childhood.

Rambling along the path, fit only for mountain goats, barely big enough for feet with shards of broken clam shells to grip onto. We grabbed at the scrubby, sometimes thorny, bushes to keep from being catapulted like a shot-put to the beach at an uncomfortably accelerated pace. The beach of stones was rolled by fluid waves for decades, not mere minutes in a fancy, mechanical tumbler for a jeweler. Honor the centuries of trees and rocks which, once lost, cannot be rolled back. Brimstone Island was a crescent glory of black basalt stones, shining luminous in the sun. There was a vein of basalt nearby and the currents pulled the chipped rocks to beach where the friction of waves rolled them to smoothness, like raw silk caressing fingertips.

Mainland jewelers called it black jade. They beached their dinghies and loaded up 30-gallon, doubled-up garbage bags to steal the rocks, creating beautiful, true black earrings and necklaces that fingertip oils cause to gleam. Now the double curve of the beach bears barely a glimmer of the shimmer of rolled black basalt, aka black jade, pulled up from the depths and rolled by the sea.

Heed the seemingly abandoned seagull nests with their enormous eggs. Cover your eyes as they dive from the sky, pecking at heads, protective unexpectedly. Don’t step on the stormy petrel nests, nestled under slabs of grass at your feet. Baby chicks be there. I long to hear the call and response as the papas fly home from overseas.

Back home, standing on the dock, we shine a flashlight into sparkling phosphorescent waters, unremarkable algae, and just-born lobsters the size of sand fleas, a fish frenzy in the making. The ripples churn in a quest to satisfy hunger, fly for safety, live. Did you know that lobsters can always escape lobster traps? The ones who get eaten have the bad luck or judgement to be inside them, gorging, in the moment they get pulled up. Surprise!