When the girls were young we lived by the ocean. We home schooled and made use of all the beauty at our fingertips. They grew up exploring tide pools, petting sea urchins and stroking fish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We also visited local farms and went regularly downtown to the local farmers market that was an extravagant display of color, smell, and beauty. They loved to have all the free tastes of fresh peaches and watermelon. I loved to smell the herbs. I had not yet learned how easy they are to grow and would pay the rather high prices for small bunches of pungent freshness. The girls had a happy childhood in those days. Life seems to have always revolved around my kitchen, and food on the table. When the girls are reminiscing they are talking about something I cooked or what they ate.
I bought them an adorable tea party set and an Easy Bake Oven. They had more fun making
minature parties. They would bake the little cakes and then sit down with the little neighbor girls and have an official, "for reals" tea party. So cute. I had more fun than they did watching them. All the nicety would dissolve after the cake was demolished and out they'd go to the yard, usually to begin goofing around in the mud. Mud pies were a good second to the Easy Bake and just as much fun when you aren't hungry, maybe more.
When we lived in Felton the girls came rushing in one afternoon with panic in thier voices shouting, "Nannie, Nannie!" I first wondered who broke what, falling from a tree or some other disaster; but nothing could have prepared me for what they said.
"Nannie there are sea stars in our yard!" These girls knew the names of many sea creatures from our studies and I assumed they were teasing me. "There are not any sea stars in the Felton forest." I answered. "Yes, come and look!" Ok, so I went to look. Down near the street in the pine needles lay two very large starfish, sea stars as they are now named. They were alive. "How on Earth?" We had a mystery. We didn't know how they got here to be certain but they were here now and they weren't dead so what to do next. The girls were urging me to save them. I really wasn't sure at all of what to do. I figured they needed water but how much salt? We sprinkled some salt into tap water and put them in a bucket. This was probably our fatal error. My mind was really working to come up with an idea. Of course! The UCSC Marine Biology Lab. They had all kinds of sea life there. We had visited and enjoyed everything from the whale bones to the dolphins. I called them and told them what we had. They agreed to let us bring our two sea stars in. By now the girls had named them, Fluff and Flathead. When we got to the center we were taken in the back and one of the biologists showed us around the lab. They had sinks with faucets connected to the ocean and she turned on the spicket and filled up a tub. Our sea stars were in acute distress and very sick at this point. The shock of being thrown on the ground for an extended period of time and our home made salt water had really made them very ill. She very gently told the girls that Fluff and Flathead would probably die but they would do what they could for them. Two sets of little girl lips started to quiver and the scientist decided to give them a quick improntu tour. We were in places usually closed to the public and it was fascinating. We must have been there for an hour and then it was time to go. When we got home the girls began making books about the day. They did such a cute job. The books were shaped like starfish and each one drew pictures and told the story. They decorated the purple construction paper covers with glitter and ink pens and titled them "Fluff and Flathead a Sea Stars Tale." Later that evening we received a call that our rescued friends had not made it. The little girls were very brave and decided that their books were going to be memorials for their little sea friends.
We still had not figured out how they got into our forest. It was a few days later that our neighbor pulled up in his old blue pickup and tossed some fish into our yard. My big poodle had often come in with fresh fish breath and I had wondered where he got it. Mysteries solved. Our neighbor went fishin every morning on the pier, he used traps and had no regard for the starfish considering them pests. We asked him nicely not to put anymore in our yard and explained how we tried to rescue them. In a way the rescue was a success for the lasting memory we have kept.