The billion billion stones of Jasper Beach

I had already been reminded that morning what a billion billion looked like. I had started my day well before dawn and so had taken the opportunity to gaze skyward. With no ambient light to pollute the heavens, I could see infinity spread above me—layer upon dark transparent layer, a billion stars set in each one, stretched across the sky.

Hours later, standing at the edge of the sea, I was reminded again of a billion billion. This time, I needed only to look down rather than up: a billion billion small, smooth stones, piled like a high sand dune that stretched the entire length of the beach. Continue reading