When I realized Ocean Day was coming, I thought two things. One, I wanted to write a post about it! Two… it felt a bit funny, the “Ocean Day”.
Since a couple of years, everyday is “ocean day” for me… and I started imagining how to share this with you.
I always loved the sea, and it has been a key character in some of my coolest stories, those happenings that had some special meaning, changed the course of events.
When I was 11, driving with my family away from SeaWorld SanDiego on the US west coast, I realized that although I loved seeing orcas and dolphins and seals up-close, I was over with captivity.
Days later, in Monterey Bay, I went on my first whale-watching trip ever… I discovered that I could meet them free, in the wild, at their terms, and I felt that that would be my way.
Sea has always felt like a listener to me. I always felt I could tell it everything, it’d hear, and listen. It has been a place of welcoming, even for those things I didn’t know how to welcome myself.
At 18 it was time for a new epiphany; I had spent myself out with studying on multiple courses for years and I didn’t really know why I was doing it anymore. It didn’t make me happy, but I had dug myself in deep enough, not to see much alternative.
Later that summer, at max. confusion level, I got on a research cruise (Instituto Tethys) on the Ligurian Sea, to study cetaceans for a week with volunteers and researchers from all over the world.
I felt home, I loved every single moment of it, I found purpose again. I realized that there was a world outside my practice room, that I loved it, and I wanted to dive in.
At 20, on a boat full of happy people and the most-happy couple, during a wedding in the Western Swedish Archipelago, I performed using voice and cello together for the first time.
I enjoyed it so, and the lovely couple of friends and everybody on board was so enthusiastic about it, that it felt like a revelation….
A couple months later, I took my first singing lesson.
At 22 I decided that since I had not studied marine biology, and I was a musician, I would have to find my personal way to connect with the sea so that it could be part of my life, and work.
I got in touch with marine researchers and we started an art&science collaboration.
Last year, those researchers, Luigi Bundone and Volker Smith and I, co-organized the workshop “Art as a tool for communicating marine mammals science”, that took place in December 2019 at the World Marine Mammals Conference in Barcellona.
Later that day, I proposed to fellow artists and researchers to create a web platform, where we could keep in touch and share our work. That project is slowly taking shape, so please, feel welcome to come discover more about my amazing colleagues on marmart.net!
Two months later I left for my first far-away artistic residency, at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in Oregon….where I have been until last week.
I spent my months on the Northwest coast discovering an incredible, complex ecologic world, and observing all kinds of wild animals in their natural habitats.
One of my favorite activities was visiting harbor seals, watching them on the other side of the river estuary, even swimming in the river with them -always keeping the respectful distance, of course. So much I learnt just by looking at them! And thanks to those visits I acquired a new nickname, that I show with pride… the Sealgirl 🙂
The sea was a such constant presence in all these years, it almost feels as it guided me through, towards this moment where I am doing what I love, and my life finally feels like the adventure I have been wishing for.
So it comes quite naturally to celebrate it, and all its dwellers, and that whole we are all part of -this Earth-… everyday.
Meanwhile, I feel that around me the sea is acquiring more and more meanings.
People trust it to bring them away from harm, and on mere rafts they cross the waves hoping to reach a better place than the one they left behind. Other people, who have been ocean-dwellers for ages, look now at its rising levels and are afraid it will get too high for their small islands, in the South Pacific.
Plastic pollution in the oceans is one of the main symbols of the climate-change awareness campaigns spreading across the world, and still accurate informations about it are not always easy to find, especially in other languages than English…
And what about those animals who thanks to the open sea, continue their migrations across the world -the same world, where we keep building higher and higher walls?
In 1947, a crew of 6 men from Norway and Sweden (plus a parrot) crossed the Pacific Ocean, from Peru to the Tuamotus Islands on a balsa raft, called Kon-Tiki.
After months literally at-level with the ocean, living a regular modern-times adventure, Thor Heyerdal wrote in the memoir of the trip: “the (…) expedition opened my eyes to what the ocean really is(…),
…a conveyor and not an isolator.”
How to try and convey such a moltitude, so many stories and perspectives gravitating around this mysterious entity, that makes our Planet so unique?
How to do it through this blog, and not just one day a year, but so to acknowledge its ever-lasting presence, and inspire readers to imagine, learn, care about it?
The question is still open for me, but I decided it is time for a new adventure: I will start interviewing people who have different perspectives on the sea, and bring their answers and stories to this blog!
On the heronontheroof, this won’t be the only Ocean Day of the year!
The first interview will be with Luigi Bundone, the researcher I got in touch in 2018, with whom I’ve been friends and collaborators since then.
Luigi studies the Mediterranean Monk Seal, a critically endangered and most fascinating pinniped who was once frequent inhabitant of some Italian coasts.
Listening to Luigi’s tales and descriptions of his field research some time ago, ideas started flowing, and soon after a new song came out. It is called Monk Seal’s Home.
To celebrate this day, and to start a longer-lasting celebration of the Sea and Ocean, I decided to share this song with you, literally: we made it together, as if you were improvising with me in a live performance!
I sent an open call through the blog’s newsletter (if you want to be added in, please write me at email@example.com) and I received all kinds of home-made sea sounds from family and friends, to be added to my singing and cello… It was amazing!! And looks like it was fun for them, too 😀
Below you can listen to the song, then you find the lyrics, and the talents that made this little project possible. Thank you Fede, Luigi, Margot, Fabi, Mum and Lori for trusting me with your sea sounds, and taking up this creative challenge!
Now, let’s dive all together in a special, secret sea cave….
Luigi’s interview will be in the works soon, hopefully ready by July: then you’ll find out more about the meaning of the song, the fascinating Mediterranean Monk Seal, what it means to be a marine researcher in the Mediterranean, and what kind of perspective on the sea that gives… So stay tuned!!
To conclude, I want to share a last thought.
That feeling of acceptance, of welcome that I attribute to the sea, is the home-feeling I look for, when I start creating.
It gives that atmosphere of relief, of a foreground free of judgement, a ready stage, the blank page, for the liquid flow of ideas to finally get out into the world. The space for enjoying it.
I know that my view is just mine, but who knows, among you someone might resonate with this…
… so I propose to you, let’s pretend we are monk seals: safe in the deep sea cave, maybe reflections of blue light passing through the water from some secret entrance, surrounded by calm sounds… or maybe just ourselves, standing on a wide beach of sand or pebbles, surrounded by sea and sky. Or on a cliff with sitka spruces behind us, and the horizon in light blue.
Let’s have the ocean’s ear all for us, with that rustling sound of waves and secrets that invites to join… a space for expression, freeing, for being home in places you have not visited yet.
A inner resonance conveyor, for creation, for being oneself and connect with the world inside, around.
…and if in that rustling sound, you hear a story, well…
…it came to you for a reason.
Happy World ocean day to all of you !
This Post (including the recipes below) is dedicated to Zia Clara, with love and affection.