As we approach Earth Day, lots of people are talking about Rachel Carson. A quick search brought up dozens of sites, blogs, videos singing her praises (yah Rachel!). But, as always, I was left wondering how to talk to my children about her legacy in an engaging way that might leave a lasting impression.
We were heading over later in the day to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, so I wanted to at least start the conversation. Since we had not yet begun reading Silent Spring, I wasn’t expecting much when I asked my children if they knew who Rachel Carson was. My ten year old was about to pull something from her memory when my ever-earnest son blurted out, “oh yeah, she’s from gymnastics!” Man, I love that kid!
“Close…,” I replied, refusing to crush his enthusiasm.
“Do you guys want to hear a story?” Now I had their attention! Everyone scrambled on the bed and sat very quietly (a rare, rare moment of silence). The story began with her childhood. As I described a little girl who lived in the Pennsylvania countryside, and loved exploring and writing about nature, my son piped up, “ just like us!”
I went on to tell them about her amazing life, challenges and all. They were in awe as I explained how Rachel didn’t wait for someone else to take action, she just did it herself. They were utterly perplexed to hear that before her time not that many people were thinking about how humans effect the planet. They were wide-eyed as I repeated what we have been talking about a lot lately — one person can change the whole world!
It was one of those moments when you just know you have hit it right. The sun was barely rising, we were all sitting in bed, cup of coffee in hand. The day hadn’t even begun and yet we were already inspired. I knew that her story would be running through their minds later that day as we explored the National Refuge in her name.
Thank you Rachel for inspiring us all.