Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
“The Sedge is wither’d from the lake and no birds sing.”
Welcome to this edition of SPICYLETTER!
This month marks the 50th year since the publication of Silent Spring by biologist, mother of the modern environmental movement, ecologist and writer, Rachel Carson. In 1962 Carson’s book alerted the entire world about the dangers and consequences of chemical pesticides. Just recently, reading words from her classic book that is so timely and continues to reverberate today, I was struck by the delicate poetry of her words.
In the 1980’s when reading for the first time, her earlier work, The Sea Around Us, I was intoxicated by her biological and ecological intelligence, brilliant accuracy and grace as related to the natural world. Without a grand theoretical claim or scientific jargon (that didn’t account for my understanding of the great bodies of waters that I loved, simply by touch, feeling and imagination), she captured me as a reader. In hindsight as an ingenue searching to better see and understand my connection to everything, she guided me with her breathing language.
Also, unequivocally my generation of women were too affected by Carson’s work and what it brought to consciousness and the culture about man-made chemicals of any kind. Just four years before Carson’s book, the birth control pill was made available to millions of women. Many of us (myself included) as we were starting families, chose non-chemical forms of birth control. For me, it was a sure defiance and a sign of times of the new world where chemicals and the science to make them, fortified the image of American superiority worldwide.
I’m very excited to offer readers this edition of SpicyLetter, words by Carson and work from veteran poet and publisher Laverne Frith, writer, teacher, multi-media artist and arts director Daniel Godston accompanied by the work of New York visual artist Cheryl Parry and writer/environmentalist, Wayne A. Moody to celebrate Carson’s vision and consequential positive environmental action by millions of Americans. Yet, we have much more to do!
Seeking to put Carson’s vision into context, personally, for the past five years, I have been witness of a home garden. I often have been the voyeur of the garden’s gradual show of strength, beauty and hardship from season to season. And, the garden is pesticide free. Unmistakably, I have learned more of the essence of all life. All living things truly are, connected. These words have become nearly cliche in the times that we live, yet perhaps they are the most important words of this century.
In a garden, the concept can be seen clearly. Clean soil. Soil needs seed. Air carries seed. Seed needs water. Clean and safe water must derive from a clean place. The quality of sun has to do with the kind of growth. Growth has to do with every condition as related to what can be seen and what cannot. All things that grow and or can be consumed has a relationship to insects, birds, small animals; including the neighbor’s cat, the dominant squirrel, the field rat, the snails and human pathways. The health of all these factors affect what will thrive and what will die. Carson says of deadly chemicals in her classic;
“These sprays, dusts and aerosols are now applied universally to farms, gardens, forests and homes–non-selective chemicals that have power to kill every insect, “the good” and “the bad” to still the songs of birds and leaping of the fish in streams, to coat the leaves with a deadly film,and to linger on in soil– all this through the intended target may only be a few weeds or insects. Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons, on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for all life? They should not be called “insecticides” but “biocides.”
Carson’s works are important reads again and again! As we now, like never before in the history of the world, face climate change as inflicted purely by the practice of man and woman, action with Carson’s facts so humanly written, serve as an eternal guide. And too, as recently spoken by the President of the United States to millions of soon again voting American citizens, climate change is real.
So, as we celebrate and remember the works of Carson who teaches us about the net of life, by word and deed we must proceed with knowledge, insight, informed action, persistence and poetry. It will be the smallest of actions, the greatest of policies and new culture that establishes for the next generations the full embrace of the foundation, benefits and wonders of our mother planet.