The world of nature lost a powerful advocate when Rachel Carson, that gifted writer and reluctant activist, died of cancer on April 14th, 1964 at the young age of 56. These words are taken from her last book, The Sense of Wonder (Harper & Row 1965):
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.”
“… [My] gift to each child in the world would be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
Though I was only 12 years old when this book was published, this slim volume would exert an oversized influence on my life.
Both my parents loved the sea, walking in the woods, and gardening. They instilled in their offspring a deep appreciation for the natural world.
Fast-forward many years… when my Dad had just turned 84, I got this slipcased edition (The Nature Company 1990, with photographs by William G. Neill). And I inscribed it for him.
When I wrote the dedication for Silent Sparks, I finally got the chance to express my love and gratitude to both my parents:
For my parents –
They lived and loved together for nearly ninety years,
and fed us wonder when we were very young.