I just met the most amazing person, and I can’t wait to tell you about her, but I’m pretty sure everybody else in my world met her years ago, read her books, discussed her work, sang her praises, and likely paid homage at one or more monuments to her life. So when I tell you who this amazing person is, I imagine you’ll react the way I’d react to someone who couldn’t wait to tell me about St. Francis, Helen Keller, or Martin Luther King Jr.
Really, dude? Where have you been?!
Okay. Here goes. I just met Rachel Carson and realized that I had somehow confused her with Annie Dillard.
WHAT?! EVERYBODY KNOWS RACHEL CARSON IS NOT ANNIE DILLARD. Dillard wrote Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Carson wrote Silent Spring.
And everybody’s read Silent Spring.
But I just did, and just like that I am now enthralled with the soul and work of this amazing woman.
Rachel was born May 27, 1907, in Springdale, Pennsylvania. Her mother, Maria, was a devout Presbyterian who embraced John Calvin’s (little known) idea that God is immanent in nature, or as Calvin put it: The natural world is the theater of God’s glory. She enrolled Rachel in the American Nature Study Movement and urged her to practice “reverence for all life.”
Rachel became a published author in 1941 (Under the Sea Wind), a marine biologist, and the second woman ever hired by the US Fish & Wildlife Service as a full-time professional.
In the early 1950s a friend wrote her a letter concerning the sudden silence of songbirds. Did Rachel know what might be causing their demise?
Rachel looked into it and didn’t stop looking. In 1962 she published her findings in a book and dedicated it to Albert Schweitzer.
Rachel alerted the world to the dangers of the indiscriminate use of pesticides, DDT being the most notorious but far from the only fatal toxin found in air, water, and soil, and slowly accumulating in the bodies of animals, including the human animal. Rachel was viciously attacked by the chemical industry and accused of being a communist. She held her ground even while she was quietly dying of cancer.
Rachel died in 1964, age 56.
Rachel Carson is rightfully called the Mother of the Environmental Movement.
I stand with those, like Margaret Atwood, who call Rachel Carson a saint.
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See Paula’s award winning photo on the home page. Posted July 11.