“Oh, that’s a really good one.”
“Here, your turn.”
“Wait, shine that light back over here.”
“Yes! Look at it glow!”
“Yea! Yippee! We found one!”
It’s been a long time since I’ve had this much fun in the dark. Giddy with our success, Rich and I press on, sweeping the flashlight over the rocks on the beach.
“Oh, another one!”
We would still be huddled by our evening campfire had it not been for a series of fortuitous coincidences.
Checking in with our contact for Crisp Point Lighthouse prior to our stint as Keepers, she alerted us to the fact that there had been frequent late night visitors this year. “They’re looking for Yooperlites,” she told us. It went right over our heads. We had no idea what she was talking about, but appreciated the heads-up.
Arriving for duty, I scanned the updated layout of merchandise in the Visitor Center taking in the new inventory. Passing the table of scrapbooks and resource books, the words jumped out at me. Yooperlites were featured on the front of the Mineral News newsletter. And my education began.
Just last year a gentleman began selling unique rocks he collected from Lake Superior’s shore in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Looking perfectly ordinary in daylight, in the dark these stones emit a brilliant orange glow under UV light. He marketed them using the name Yooperlites, based on the slang for UP residents (Yoopers).
That explained the nocturnal visitors. And why it was a new phenomenon.
According to the Mineral News, these are examples of concretions – sedimentary rock with minerals embedded in them. In this case, the mineral is believed to be fluorescent sodalite.
Interesting enough. Until a late afternoon delivery of supplies for the lighthouse that also yielded a key disclosure. There was a UV flashlight and samples of Yooperlite in the Visitor Center. Suddenly, we had the means to make our own discoveries.
With the last light fading from the sky we scour the rock strewn beach. It is surprising how many pinpoints of yellow or blue light shine back at us from the rocks, and how white rocks reflect that light. (Not to mention Rich’s white socks and my neon yellow shoe laces, which are blinding.)
But we seek the real gems. The rocks permeated with an orange glow. The more pocked with light the better. And they are there. As soon as the UV rays passes over those rocks, they light up. Not just colorful, they radiate from within. There is no mistaking them, and with each discovery we cheer and laugh, triumphant.
It is a heck of a lot more fun than hunting for agates. And a lot more successful. With each new Yooperlite we find, we are spurred on to uncover another one. And another. Selecting only the five best to keep. Sure enough, in the daylight their hidden glow is locked deep inside.
I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow night. Oh, and did you know? I was born a Yooper.