Like the Brant geese, California and Steller sea lions return to waters near our home every Spring. Brant geese come to feast on the herring eggs. Sea lions come to feast on the herring themselves. And they all sing.
When sea lions sing, their sound stretches for miles over the water. We can hear them singing when we walk on the beaches. And when their broad flippers whack down hard on water, we imagine they're dancing too.
Singing and dancing as though this is their favorite day.
Their song stays with us—even after they've returned to the open ocean. And a couple of years ago, I started to dream of sea lions …sea lions swimming in the water…sea lions surfing broad waves, using rear flippers as rudders...sea lions singing, inviting me to join them...
So when the herring returned last March, we hired a boat to carry us to two tiny pieces of rock that just barely rise out of the ocean off the tip of Hornby Island—Flora Islet and Norris Rocks—where the sea lions rest between feastings. There we encountered a culture where emotion and feeling are flung out with Dionysian abandon. Where physical intimacy and touch create bonds that survive even the fiercest aggression. Where sleep is deep…and where waking bursts forth with rambunctious play and feasting and song.
And every now and then—as the tumult swirls around them—one or two individuals begin their yoga…raising their heads skyward…bodies becoming ever so still…songs descending into silence. Once their devotion begins, others often leave the wildness of their world to join them.
We too could feel ourselves being drawn into the calm…