My mother is the daughter of a fisherman; My grandfather, in his later life, made nets. I remember visiting the sheds once in Gisborne where they all hung up and he was there trawling through used nets looking for holes to repair; I see his worn and sunburnt Italian hands knitting the nylon materials through knots and patterns he held in his mind. I remember his laughter and joy, the good spirits he held in his heart up to his last days. These are all the merits I see in my mother. Her love never dies.
I have been drawn to the ocean for years. Songs I've written would occasionally feature stories about ocean life throughout my years as a songwriter: 'The Pirate's Flesh', 'Diamond Betrayal', 'Dullfish Angler', "Daddy never came home...", and 'Seafarer' are some of the songs that feature heavily the force of the ocean in the lives of men, and sometimes the impact on family. The Blessing's 'Hurricane Room' from their debut album Prince of the Deep Water has been one of the 'great songs' of my life, a tale about travelling coastlines, the oceans, and the colourful characters and situations around that; not so much a 'tale', but a travelogue of experiences through imagery, and a chorus that pleads "I sing my misappropriation song for lovers land-locked far too long."
Yet, I am not an ocean dweller. Nor do I see myself becoming one. The ocean has fascinated me, occupied my mind; perhaps will remain the greatest force of nature untameable by humans. Winds scour the earth, we harness them for power; fires scorch and destroy land and houses, we use it to keep our houses warm; mass oceans of salty water filled with life, we dump our garbage into, trawl nets to feed the masses... But the ocean will have the last say. When the winds become too destructive and carry too many storms for us to inhabit ground level, will we burrow into the grounds, or will we finally seek refuge by sinking into the watery depths?
Clouds are low here in Nelson. They fascinate me too. Crawling across surrounding hilltops, resting in the crevices, the slopes and valleys; I have never seen such low cloud cover before. This morning it covers all of the Tasman bay, hanging just above us all. If we climbed one of those hills opposite the bay, as we got to the top we'd walk straight into the cloud cover. Today's forecast was for sunshine.
My river campsite calls me. The river is a pathway to the ocean. Maybe I will walk the pathway only, return to the boulders and stones, the scavenged dry wood; and be content there, be at ease there, be at peace there. Far from the maddening crowds, the traffic cues and horns, the forced conversations, the deserted conversations; the desire to only know those in an immediate circle and leave others to perish with the vultures. The city has no desire to nourish, nor those entrapped inside it; the individual must break free if they are to be true to themselves, true to their human nature; true to acceptance, trusting, supportive, and loving.
- Excerpt from The Tasman Journey