Saturday, September 8, 2007

Nature Writer

I just came across this. I would love to read more from her.

Young Rachel Carson’s playground was the fields and the woods surrounding her home near the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania. She grew up delighting in the beauty of the natural world. Language and story became her second love and when she wasn’t exploring nature – she was writing stories and poetry to share with her family.
At age ten, Rachel found success publishing her stories in a popular children’s magazine of her time, St. Nicholas. That success and the fact that she earned a little money from publishing inspired her to become a writer. She began college as an English major but switched to biology when she took a biology course and found her love of nature rekindled. It wasn’t until Rachel was working in her first assignment for her first job at for the United States Bureau of Fisheries that she realized that she could combine both loves. Her assignment was to write a series of radio programs on marine life called “Romance Under the Waters,” and they were so successful that she realized that through her writing she could share her knowledge of science and fascination with nature.
Sadly, none of Rachel’s poetry has survived the last one-hundred years, though there are a few rejection slips so we know that even this gifted writer experienced the agony of publishing. But Linda Lear, her biographer, found this lovely essay titled “My Favorite Recreation” published in St. Nicholas Magazine when Rachel was fifteen.

My Favorite Recreation-- by Rachel Carson
The call of the trail on that dewy May morning was too strong to withstand. The sun was barely an hour high when Pal and I set off for a day of our favorite sport with a lunch-box, a canteen, a note-book, and a camera. Your experienced woodsman will say that we were going birds’ –nesting – in the most approved fashion.
Soon our trail turned aside into deeper woodland. It wound up a gently sloping hill, carpeted with fragrant pine-needles. It was our own discovery, Pal’s and mine, and the fact gave us a thrill of exultation. It was the sort of place that awes you by its majestic silence, interrupted only by the rustling breeze and the distant tinkle of water.
Near at hand we heard the cheery “witchery, witchery,” of the Maryland yellow-throat. For half an hour we trailed him, until we came out on a sunny slope. There in some low bushes we found the nest, containing four jewel-like eggs. To the little owner’s consternation, we came close enough to snap a picture.
Countless discoveries made the day memorable: the bobwhite’s nest, tightly packed with eggs, the oriole’s aerial cradle, the frame-work of sticks which the cuckoo calls a nest, and the lichen-covered home of the humming-bird.
Late in the afternoon a penetrating “Teacher! teacher! TEACHER!” reached our ears. An oven-bird! A careful search revealed his nest, a little round ball of grass, securely hidden on the ground.
The cool of approaching night settled. The wood-thrushes trilled their golden melody. The setting sun transformed the sky into a sea of blue and gold. A vesper-sparrow sang his evening lullaby. We turned slowly homeward, gloriously tired, gloriously happy!
“My Favorite Recreation” from St. Nicholas Magazine, vol. 49 (July 1922), p. 999. Republished in Lost Woods: The Discovered Writings of Rachel Carson by Linda Lear (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1998).
***********During her career, Rachel continued to write in a way that communicates scientific knowledge in a literary style that non-scientists found compelling. She published numerous magazine articles and four books: Under the Sea Wind (1941), The Sea Around Us (1950), The Edge of the Sea (1955), and Silent Spring (1962). A fifth book, The Sense of Wonder, was based on an article and published in 1965 after her death. Selections from her field notebooks and public speeches collected by Linda Lear are published in Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson (1998).
Probably no piece of her writing crystallizes Rachel Carson’s philosophy more than this, the closing statement from The Edge of the Sea (1955):

Contemplating the teeming life of the shore, we have an uneasy sense of the communication of some universal truth that lies just beyond our grasp. What is the message signaled by the hordes of diatoms, flashing their microscopic lights in the night sear? What truth is expressed by the legions of the barnacles, whitening the rocks with their habitations, each small creature within finding the necessities of its existence in the sweep of the surf? And what is the meaning of so tiny a being as the transparent wisp of protoplasm that is a sea lace existing for some reason inscrutable to us – a reason that demands its presence by the trillion amid the rocks and weeds of the shore? The meaning haunts and ever eludes us, and in its very pursuit we approach the ultimate mystery of Life itself.
Life in the Rachel Carson Reserve

1 comment:

diamondsintherough said...

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