Posted by: floridanature | April 28, 2008

“Silent Spring”

The headline is a good steal, not unlike the blog title (see ABOUT for more). Rachel Carson, the woman who wrote the book by the same name, was one hell of a writer—not just an “environmental writer” but an excellent observer and teller of stories. When I read the work of a careful author like that, I’m always in awe. That’s what really impresses me; not the puffed up, chest-beating stuff.

Unlike Ms. Carson’s book that deals with the silencing of the seasonal springtime because of our obsession with pesticides, my title here has to do with freshwater Florida springs. And how one day, they too, may be “silent”. Because folks suck too much water from the ground, and crowd over those places where it might percolate back in. And those folks are as thoughtless as they are powerful.

Mark Twain warned us about it all a long time ago: We live not in a democracy, he said, but in a ‘plutocracy’. Government by the wealthy. And so we go to nature for the solution—siphoning surface water from rivers when our groundwater declines. Instead, we should first go to individual consumers and demand personal responsibility. Isn’t that what political conservatism is all about?

Brickyard Slough

Now we return from a St. Johns River Classroom up at Blue Spring with some great folks, and a paddle out to Brickyard Slough on the St. Johns east of Sanford. The events were extraordinary. So were the venues and the people. Can good hearts alone save an ecological treasure? If we designate one place as a “jewel” (as we have done here in central Florida), will everyone slow down, genuflect, and be better for it? Or will they fast frame on by on their way to the next segment of their caffinated lives ?

And what magic dwells in the deepest heart of a spring? And why are we so disconnected from the natural world that we cannot allow it to touch us any longer? Industrialization distracts the mind and dulls the heart, affects that we are just now beginning to realize. If William Bartram was in charge, he’d remind us that the tiny pinkish egg of the Apple Snail is no greater or less than any other living thing in the natural world.

Just because we’ve quickly bullied our way to the top of the food chain, doesn’t mean we’ve earned our tenure there through wisdom and contemplation. We’re just clever with machinery.


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