Sunday was the 100th anniversary of Rachel Carson's birth.
"There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings.... Then a strange blight crept of the area and everything began to change.... There was a strange stillness.... The few birds seen anywhere were moribund: they trembled violently and could not fly. It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus...of scores of bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh."
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"The beauty of the living world I was trying to save has always been uppermost in my mind--that, and anger at the senseless, brutish things that were being done. I have felt bound by a solemn obligation to do what I could--if I didn't at least try I could never be happy again in nature. But now I can believe that I have at least helped a little. It would be unrealistic to believe one book could bring a complete change."
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We celebrated Carson's birthday with a nature hike through Cabin John Regional Park.
Son took a water sample and examined it with a magnifying glass in hopes of discovering some of its mysteries:
We also admired the industriousness of what we assume were some busy beavers:
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We listened to one of our favorite duos singing their song "Silent Spring" about her. You can hear some of it here.
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Another part of our observance of her birthday was a reading of The Sense of Wonder, a book that discusses ways to introduce a child to nature. As she says, "The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused--a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love--then we wish for knowledge.... Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate."
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We also visited Rachel Carson's home in Silver Spring, minutes from our own home.
Aside from a plaque over the front door, it is a completely normal neighborhood house, occupied by owners who are good stewards to Carson's legacy of care for the natural world and courage for the earth.
As I looked through the dappled shade at the flowering plants in front of the door, I was suddenly aware of the strong calls of animals and the gentle subversive voices of thousands of birds.
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Hey--did you know there is Rachel Carson yarn?!