Songs of the Sea

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My ever-present longing for the ocean–a side-effect of moving from Hawai’i to landlocked Massachusetts–recently reached a peak when I finally watched Song of the Sea, the sophomore film by the creators of The Secret of Kells. Although the illuminated manuscript lover in me was very fond of KellsSong of the Sea may be the most beautiful, lush, well-crafted film I’ve ever seen: and it only made me miss my Pacific home more.

The last time I saw the sea at all was in May, when I traveled up along the Maine coastlines in search of mountain trails and waves crashing at the feet of tall cliffs. Now, as the summer’s nearly ended and I haven’t seen so much as a tidepool, I’m eager to immerse myself once more in the memories of the great, grey Atlantic.

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The first part of our journey took us from Portland to Acadia National Park, a place that has captured my imagination for years. It was early May, so Bar Harbor was just beginning to come back to life, slowly, after a long and terrible New England winter.

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As someone accustomed to tropical teal waters and bustling coral reefs, the wild beaches of Acadia were delightfully alien to me. I’d only ever seen the sea like this once before: when I traveled to Alaska as a child, a journey which took me from America’s southernmost state to its northernmost.

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When visiting beaches, I’m a scavenger–a shell collector, a sea-glass spotter, a hunter of treasured detritus. The beaches I visited for gathering purposes (all outside the National Park, of course!) were thick with an unexpected wealth of driftwood, sand dollars, and crab shells, all of which later found homes in my growing cabinet of curiosities.

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I can understand why Winslow Homer, the Wyeths, and so many other artists and thinkers took up residence in coastal Maine: it’s radically, wildly different from the rest of New England, particularly in those crisp, chilly months before the masses of summer tourists have arrived. It may not be the gorgeous depiction of seaside Ireland that Song of the Sea invokes, but Maine’s waters are stunning nonetheless–and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were home to an American selkie or two…

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