Friday, May 25, 2007

happy birthday rachel!

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.
- Rachel Carson (1907-1964)

this sunday, may 27th, marks the 100 anniversary of rachel carson's birth. last spring I had the pleasure of joining a group of interested folks from cleveland on a tour of rachel carson's homestead in springdale, a small town nestled along the allegheny river near pittsburgh. we got our celebration of rachel's centennial birthday in nice and early. the day we visited was a cool and misty spring day the drizzle and low clouds seemed to enhance our tour and helped transport us back to the time when rachel lived in the old farmhouse. I always enjoyed touring the houses or environments where people I admire spent time. carson has been a personal hero of mine since high school when I learned of her during the very first earth day. it was wonderful wandering about exploring the house where rachel was born and where she spent her formative years - the years in which her passion for the natural world was fueled. the organization which cares for the house has done a loving job recreating what the house must have been like when rachel and her family lived there. the house is set on a hill overlooking the river and and one time the house was surrounded by forests and meadows. it was easy to imagine a young rachel wandering that terrain for hours on end - an activity she did when young in the company of her mother and later with only her imagination and insatiable curiosity as her companions.

I just heard a clip on the radio announcing that this weekend on 'bob edwards weekend' bob will be honoring rachel. carson is recognized as the catalyst for the environmental movement with her groundbreaking book 'silent spring.' edwards program will focus on providing an overview of the state of the environment during the last 100 years. I love edwards program, the only downside is that it begins at 6:00 on sunday morning on my local public radio station - most sundays I'm up by 7, but this sunday I need to make sure I'm up earlier than usual so I don't miss anything! unfortunately it doesn't look like pri has an audio archive yet for edwards program. so I'll have to be there or be square!

in 1980 jimmy carter awarded rachel carson with the presidential medal of honor, the certificate hangs in the springdale house, on it is written:

"Never silent herself in the face of destructive trends, Rachel Carson fed a spring of awareness across America and beyond. A biologist with a gentle, clear voice, she welcomed audiences to her love of the sea and with an equally clear determined voice she warned Americans about the dangers human beings themselves pose for their own environment. Always concerns, always eloquent, she created a tide of environmental consciousness than has not ebbed."

pictures: top picture the homestead; insert rachel's bedroom with microscope. taken june 2, 2006 springdale, pennsylvania.

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