Rachel Carson saw the big picture, saw that if you killed all the bugs, there wouldn’t be any birds, nor any other forms of life. We’ve just spent a week in Maine, at her summer cottage on rural Southport Island, looking out the very big window she often sat near. We have views of a few pines directly outside and then the Sheepscot River beyond and the forested island on the other side.
This morning it is calm, smooth surface, but last night the wind swept through and we watched silvery waves reflect the sun going down over the island. It would be beautiful here even were it not Rachel’s cottage: we’ve seen lady’s slippers and bunchberry, osprey and eider ducks, and the kids have spent most of their time in the surrounding woods or down on the rocky beach, especially in the tide pools. That it is Rachel’s cottage adds something more, a particular a reverence, a gratitude maybe for what is here. Her presence surrounds us, not only in the handwriting we saw on the door, the growth chart, but in every walk through the woods and along the “edge of the sea.” So we speak in hushed tones.
The cottage is rustic, exactly as it should be. The place could probably be a national heritage site, but its quiet charm would be ruined. And it is quiet--except for the wind and the gentle sweep of the tides, this place is absolutely quiet and serene. Besides, no tourist busses would fit on these narrow streets. It’s cool too. I now know what so many made the trip to Maine in summer. Before air conditioning, this was where you could sleep at night. It was here that Carson went after Silent Spring came out and she wanted a respite from the media coverage and attacks by chemical companies (“What does she know about future generations? She’s a spinster.”) A perfect place to rest. Simple, without distraction, with a big picture window looking out onto what matters.