If a child is to keep alive his sense of wonder…he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” - from Rachel Carson’s The Sense of Wonder
I suppose the thing that I'm most proud of these days is being a grandfather. You can count on my pulling out pictures of the three grandkids if you were to ask about them, to be sure, but what I'm most interested in is taking them outside and showing them 'cool stuff.' Here in Ohio this time of year, that discovery takes place on a walk in the woods to look at color and to pick up leaves with interesting stories to tell. It also might include watching birds at the birdbath and listening to birdsong from the trees, trying to figure out just who it was who had something to say this late in the season. And this weekend it's off with the two grandboys to the local nature center to pick up birdseed for winter feeding. I'm just sure if we caught up with Rachel Carson on one of our outings, she'd give an approving smile and a wink.
When Rachel Carson comes to mind, I first think of her as a scientist. My initial exposure to her writing came in the late 1960s in a college biology class when we were assigned to read the newly published Silent Spring. Chilling it was. And a tough read for my science-resistant mind. Still, the book made an impact on me and was one of the factors, I'm sure, that has lead me to be a part-time activist for the Earth.
About that same time, Apollo 8 became the first manned space flight to the moon. I know I've read somewhere that the first picture of Earthrise taken from lunar orbit and beamed back home during that Christmas 1968 journey played an important role in helping those of us back home realize just how fragile Earth looks from even the short distance to the moon. I'm guessing many of you reading this can still visualize that photograph without resorting to a web search. And then, of course, came the first Earth Day just one and one half years later in 1970. It doesn't take an historian to tell us that both the Apollo program and Carson's Silent Spring, among other factors, had touched enough social nerves that brought many to take action to reverse the impact of development to flora and fauna alike on our island home -- our blue marble -- in space.
As a scientist, Rachel Carson has taught us that the health and viability of terrestrial ecosystems are things we need to care about. As an elective parent, she also taught us that sharing the simple and dynamic beauty of this planet with the next generation was also our responsibility. For her, it was a labor of love. As it is for Grandpa Tom. I hope it is -- or will be -- with you, too.
Care to post a story about sharing nature with a child? How about an idea on making a difference with kids in the natural world. We'd love to hear.
The Sea Around Us Field Notes Blog continues through December