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The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Winning entries in the Silent Spring essay contest

Posted by | January 9, 2013 | Filed under: Opinion

Here are the top-ranked essays submitted by the winners of the 50th anniversary Silent Spring essay contest. Thank you to these and the other 257 Maine seventh graders who submitted essays.

Nature Is Our Symphony

Nick Prato, Frank Harrison Middle School, Yarmouth

"In nature, nothing exists alone."

Nature. The vast, perplexing world that is always hopping with life. From the trees in our backyard, to the waving grass on a prairie, nature will always exist. As a whole, that is. All the trees, the sun, the dirt, the plants, the animals, and everything else on the planet, depend on each other, including human beings. There can't be only one tree, or only one flower. It wouldn't be there without all the elements of nature. They are all interconnected. Nature, in my opinion, is like a piece of music.

A piece of music is made up of multiple notes. High notes, low notes, and notes in between. Long notes, short notes, and notes in between. Loud notes, quiet notes, and notes in between. Quiet to loud, and loud to quiet, but all the different types of notes have one thing in common. When they work together, they create a song, or even a symphony, which could never be created with only one note. If one note is taken off the piece of music, it affects the entire piece.

"In nature, nothing exists alone." Those are Rachel Carson's words on her observation that everything you do has an effect somewhere else. One thing can't live by itself because it is interconnected to everything else. It needs support, but it also gives it. For example, the DDT pesticide situation. People thought that getting rid of all the bad bugs in the environment would be a good thing. Little did they know, something that was powerful enough to get rid of all the bad bugs had to have an effect somewhere else. It affected the life cycle of the singing birds, which was a message that it affected other organisms in the surrounding environment. Rachel Carson then had the intelligence and the courage to bring this topic to light in Silent Spring in such a way, that it reached many people, which was something no one had ever done before. I believe that the silence of the birds was a sign. It was a sign that what they were doing was killing the bugs, but also affecting other organisms in the environment, including human beings. "In nature, nothing exists alone." We all breathe the same air, we all drink the same water, we all live in the same nature.

Nature is our symphony. Everything needs to be there for it to sound its best. All the notes need to be there, working together, in order for it to be its best. Taking out one part of the symphony will affect the entire piece. Just like the environment, killing the bugs with DDT affected more than just the bugs. Rachel Carson understood and tried to relay this message of interdependence in nature. "In nature, nothing exists alone." Everything is interconnected. Just like a piece of music.


Drake Janes, Adams School, Castine

When I contemplate the beauty of earth, it fulfills me in many ways. It makes me feel that I have a purpose in this world, even when I am seeking to find what that means exactly.  It gives me strength to see earth how it is supposed to be seen. It makes me, as a human, more responsible and more alive, and I appreciate my surroundings that much more.

In Castine, we are a unique, historical coastal town, and if it were not for a causeway, we would be considered an island. Sometimes I go biking in Witherle Woods, a local reserve, filled with secret stories from the past. I have witnessed untraveled trails, stonewalls, abandoned remnants, steep cliffs, and radiant sunsets, which cause me to pause and ponder. In these moments, I often contemplate the mysterious beauty, which surrounds me here. My worries go away and I gather strength during these experiences. I believe that these images become life-long memories and it is why Rachel Carson’s quote means so much to me.

Like Castine, but many miles away, is a tropical island much warmer than Maine! When I visited the Bahamas recently, I saw turquoise water, and felt the warm, white sand, and I thought that life couldn’t get any better than that. While I was on a golf cart ride, I soaked up every little blade of grass and tree that I saw; I was so focused on the surrounding nature, that it became hard to pay attention to anything else—it was that beautiful! I am amazed at earth’s creations, so vast and different, and what an impact this has on me personally.

I might not know exactly what my purpose is in life yet, but I do know that I appreciate the beauty of the earth. When I watched the movie Silent Spring in class, I was immediately impressed to learn about Rachel Carson. She believed that earth has a purpose, but it is our responsibility to find the beauty within it and respect it for what it is. Within my community, I’ve come to appreciate our authentic 1800’s schoolhouse, the magic of the woods, the beauty of the rocky shores, and the eagles and osprey that fly overhead! This is our beautiful earth—here in our little town of Castine or miles away in tropical Bahamas—and it will continue to provide me with strength as I strive to find meaning and purpose.

The Endless Circle

Crystal Bell, Holbrook Middle School, Holden

When you look out into the forest, what do you see? A green grass meadow? A dark and foreboding place full of death and horror? What I see is a peaceful place teeming with life. Through the darkness comes light, and through death comes the rebirth, for everything in nature needs every other creature. Like an endless circle that includes everything, nature has an invaluable beauty that will last forever if preserved.

Throughout her life, it seems that Rachel Carson stayed true to her words, and that nature provided her with the strength to keep going. The feats Rachel Carson accomplished were amazing: going to college, teaching a zoology class at Maryland University, becoming a science writer, and successfully writing two best-sellers; she was stupendous, especially because she was born in the early 1900’s, a time when women were valued less than men. She must have found much in nature that provided her with the power to continue and reach her goals regardless of all the social pressures she faced.

Sometimes, when everything seems to be moving listlessly, there is only one answer.  The peace and serenity of a quiet walk through the forest, or the tranquility of a kayaking trip to the middle of the lake might just aid your return to the path on which your life is destined to travel. Rather than make nature a foe and look at all of its qualities that we don’t like, why not make nature an ally? Through destroying nature, we are destroying ourselves, and not just in the sense that everything is connected and harm and impairment will return to us, but instead in the way that we depend upon nature’s constant supply of exquisite splendor to clear our minds and refresh our patience.

Nature cannot be replaced, for anything man-made would be too predictable, too banal. It is those diminutive elements, unexpected and delightful, that give nature its character. We are such a little part of this world, just a fragment of the Earth and its history, just a miniature piece of nature’s cycle. Do we have the right to change those conditions? Most creatures live in a world unlike the one we see, not even knowing of our existence. What would we be without nature? Nature is the basis of our existence. We are a leaf on the tree of life, and it’s giving us the nourishment to live, thrive, and develop into something much bigger and better than our existence today. Consider this carefully, for if you are uncertain, nature is waiting to inspire and is just a glance away.

Miraculous Little Things

Samantha McIntyre, Holbrook Middle School, Holden

You may remember Rachel Carson (May 1907-April 1964) as a writer, scientist, ecologist, etc. She was that and much more. I didn't know her personally, but I have studied her in school, and she is a very inspiring person who I would like to learn more about. She wrote a couple of books, but one really changed people's lives:  Silent Spring. In that book she tells her readers about the dangers of DDT, other pesticides, and the environmental movement she started. DDT is the label of the chemicals that were supposed to kill insects but started to kill off birds. Carson thought they could kill us, too. When Silent Spring first came out, it began a war between Carson and the chemical companies. The chemical companies were infuriated at the thought of someone, especially a woman, accusing them of the death of nature. Surprisingly, she didn't back down when the chemical companies verbally attacked her and her reputation. She just wouldn't give up.

Carson loved nature and had a heart for all the things in it. She found the strength to do many things. She fought, while battling breast cancer, for as long as her strength lasted. She passed away at age 56, only two years after she published Silent Spring.  She left the quote "Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." They are very powerful words. Over the course of writing this essay, I learned that contemplate means to think about, and in my mind, this quote means that if you find the beauty in nature, it will give you the strength that you need to go on in life and do what needs to be done. In a twelve or thirteen-year-old's life, we could use some strength. Adults nowadays don't always realize the beauty of nature and how far it can take you in life. Carson found it and used it to her advantage. She found beauty in the little things, not only in nature, but also in her day-to-day routine.

Carson spent many summers here in Maine. She loved listening to the birds in the woods, the waves crashing up against the rocks, and the trees whispering throughout the forest. She spent those summers with her adopted son, and he felt and noticed the beauty as well. Carson found that as you grow older, you lose the sense of the beauty in life. With that, you lose the sense of joy in the world around you, the miraculous little things you never thought would matter in such a big world. The little things can give us strength. Carson found joy in everything she did. It makes me wonder if everyone kept the beauty and joy throughout our lives, would we be better people in better communities? It makes me wonder how life would be different. Would it be different in a better way? Rachel Carson believed it would.

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