Believe it or not, we can actually learn a lesson or two from the Oyster. From resilience through to mental and emotional growth. There is much to explore when it comes to the life of an Oyster and what it represents. A better understanding of the life of an Oyster, which has been presented in my children’s picture book, My Grandma is Like the Sea, will be attained upon reading this article. The information provided may then be used to start a conversation with the child about the Oyster and its significance.
The Oyster Motif
The Oyster motif has been carefully incorporated in my children’s picture book, due to it being a direct link to my heritage. Further to this, there is much to learn not only about this marvellous mollusc, but as a reflection of ourselves. The power for the Oyster to provide perspective (see below), is my interpretation based on the centuries-old wisdom behind what it takes to produce an Oyster from sea to table. This is with thanks to a place called Mali Ston on the southern Dalmatian Coast in Croatia.
Mali Ston is famous for its European Flat Oyster (Ostrea Edulis), receiving the Grand Prix and Gold Medal at the General Trades International Exhibition in London in 1936. I have been exposed to the intricate process of sustainable Oyster Farming since a young child, and so have drawn upon its symbolism. I truly see the Oyster as a reflection of what we can learn about ourselves, or rather as an inspiration to grow to our greatest ability despite challenges or setbacks. Read more about Mali Ston in my other article HERE.
The Oyster has the power to provide PERSPECTIVE
Oysters are highly adapted survivors found in the most changeable environments in the seas around us. They are true survivors! They’ve developed to deal with so many factors, from changing temperatures to ocean acidification and salinity. Furthermore, they are able to live in an environment that constantly threatens their existence. Oysters have also developed such strength to endure living in the sea’s depths without any ability to freely move. I have gone into greater detail on the process of Oyster Farming in Mali Ston HERE which will support this.
Pearls of Wisdom
The Pearl Oyster has also played a significant role in my children’s picture book and stems from my connection to the Ostrea Edulis Oyster. The Pearl Oyster is a remarkable transformative gift of nature. Once again, there is much to learn from the Pearl Oyster. One of the Pearl Oyster’s most inspiring qualities is its ability to produce pearls. Pearls are created as a natural defensive response against an irritant such as sand.  These marvels show us to look within in order to tap into our power, despite external circumstances. Sometimes ‘seemingly’ undesirable situations actually serve as a catalyst for growth and true beauty.
What can the Oyster teach Children?
Children are very much in theta in the first 7 years of life.  Belief systems are heavily formed within these years, with experiences later in life matching such beliefs. Read more about this from Dr. Bruce Lipton HERE. I have been particularly mindful of this when creating the themes for my book, which is targeted at 4-8 year olds. As well as in the process of sharing what an Oyster symbolises. If you want to dive a little deeper, the Oyster motif can be a way of teaching the young child the following;
- Patience. The life of the Ostrea Edulis Oyster begins with the collection of spat. The outcome given patience and the right conditions, produces the most exquisite tasting European Flat Oyster. The process undertaken in Mali Ston can be found HERE.
- And then some… more patience. It takes approximately 3 full years for the Ostrea Edulis Oyster to reach maturity. A very delicate process is involved in achieving this. Furthermore, to respect the Ostrea Edulis Oyster’s natural cycles, harvest only takes place during the months that it is not reproducing. Read more about the ‘Prized Famous Oyster of Mali Ston’ HERE.
- Grit and Resilience. The Ostrea Edulis Oyster matures in the sea’s depths without the ability to freely move. Something which may resonate with you during Covid-19. Read more about the process it takes to see an Oyster reach full maturity HERE.
- Did you know? Oysters have been found to HEAR. Amazing huh?! Furthermore, according to research on the Pacific Oyster, Oysters shut their shells in response to stressors such as low frequency noise. This then hinders their ability to hear biological cues.  Read more about this wonder HERE. This highlights the importance of navigating stressors in the best way possible, which may include altering our perception to ‘external’ events.
- Respect for the natural world. Quite simply, the Oyster motif serves as a way for children to appreciate the natural world as they grow and explore the world around them.
The (Ostrea Edulis) Oyster including Pearl Oyster have been beautifully presented in my children’s picture book through strong imagery.
The world of the Oyster is seriously amazing, and what we can learn from it is endless. Now moving onto you… the world is your Oyster, but only if you allow it to be!
Go to SHOP to pre-order your copy of My Grandma is Like the Sea.
And in the meantime, a quote from Ernest Hemingway, ‘A Moveable Feast’…
‘As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.’ 
- How do Oysters make pearls? Natural History Museum.
- Bruce Lipton, PhD: The Jump From Cell Culture to Consciousness PMC. December 2017.
- Yes, Oysters Can ‘Hear.’ They Probably Wish We’d Clam Up. The New York Times. 2017.
- A Moveable Feast: Chapter One O, The Oprah Magazine. 2009.
- The sense of hearing in the Pacific oyster, Magallana gigas Plos One. October 2017.
- Oysters from Mali Ston become 28th Croatian product awarded EU protection Croatia Week. October 2020.
- Are Croatia’s renowned Mali Ston oysters overrated – or truly some of the world’s best? BBC Travel. December 2015.
- Mali Ston – A True Treasure Nala’s Den. 2021.
- The Prized Famous Oyster of Mali Ston Nala’s Den. 2021.