Tag Archives: Environment

Courage at Twilight: Spraying Weeds

On the way home from work, I stopped to buy a big bottle of Round-Up herbicide.  Those pesky weeds keep popping up in the shrub beds and under the pine trees.  Virginia creeper seems impossible to extirpate.  As a teen, Dad taught me to mix concentrated pesticides with water in a three-gallon pressurized spray tank.  With rubber gloves and a long sleeve shirt, I mixed the poison and sprayed the fruit trees against aphids and borers.  Dad strictly instructed me never to get the pesticide—especially the concentrate—on my skin, and if I did to wash immediately with soap and water.  He told me how these chemicals had killed people who touched them, or breathed their vapor.  I took his word for it and followed his instructions carefully.  A decade later I came across a first edition of Rachel Carson’s 1962 masterpiece Silent Spring, and carried it around for another decade before reading it.  The book exposed the pesticide and herbicide industries for the dangerous nature of these chemicals to humans, animals (think DDT and Bald Eagle eggs), and ecosystems.  Of course, all those chemicals have since been banned for home use because they, in fact, killed people.  I am still careful with Round-Up, not spraying on a windy day, and washing with soap after.  How glad I am that sensitive, smart, and courageous persons like Rachel took on the industrial complex at great personal sacrifice to share messages of truth larger than themselves.  To introduce my book Rabbit Lane: Memory of a Country Road, and in admiration for how Rachel changed the world, I wrote this poem, expressing my sentiments 50 years after she penned hers.

SILENT SPRING

Spring,
Rachel:
not silent quite.
I hear,
distinctly:
the growing hum
of humankind.