Culture Dose | The Sea Trilogy | Our Planet | Dream of The Sea

Culture Dose | What to Read, Watch and Listen to Now

Lately when walking with my nieces Bryn and Piper (ages 7 and 4), I’ve noticed that they look with their entire bodies. Not just their eyes. But with their hands, their ears, their noses. For when we walk, much like being with my dog (who spends 15 minutes walking 8 steps lost in the fascination of all the smells) we really notice stuff together. In the late winter, it was about frogspawn on the ponds, which now are hatching into tadpoles. We’ll get to see, over about 14 weeks or so, them transforming from nothing into almost frogs. The actual time to go from tadpole to frog is 1 day – but there’s so many cool steps in between.

I remember one of the most traumatic moments of my childhood was checking on my tadpoles. I’d hidden them in a jar so they wouldn’t be lonely –not realizing they’d freeze once I’d taken them out of their natural habitat. So when they thawed there was nothing but skeletons.

From that day forward, I had that understanding that we had to tread with care, with respect. And I became a voracious nature reader. One of the earliest books I remember was by Rachel Carson called Under the Sea Wind. It’s recently been reissued along with two other books that make up this trilogy.  

Read The Sea Trilogy by Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson had a deep conviction: that wonder was the foundation of our relationship with nature. And that children have this sense of wonder in spades. But often, as we get older, we need to be reminded. Reminded of the feeling of awe and delight; reminded that we have to care deeply, remain awake. And that with enough attention, we can all “feel the rain on our face and think of its long journey, its transmutations from sea to air to earth.” At a moment when overfishing, pollution, and global warming are causing catastrophic changes to marine environments worldwide, Carson’s lyrically detailed accounts of these environments remind us of their beauty, fragility, and immense consequence for human life.

Though she is best known as the author of the revolutionary Silent Spring, “the handbook for the future of all life on Earth”, Carson was first and foremost a poet of the sea. The re-issuing of The Sea Triology, at a moment of catastrophic changes to marine environments, is another radical act.

Under the Sea Wind, (1941) her lyrical debut, offers an intimate account of maritime ecology through the eyes of three of the ocean’s denizens, the individual lives of sanderling, mackerel, and eel dramatically intertwined in the enduring ebb and flow of the tides.

 The Sea Around Us (1951)–a winner of the National Book Award– presents its subject on a grand, biospheric scale, revealing not only many mysteries of the still-unfathomed depths, but a reverence for the sea as a source of global climate and of life itself.

Then, The Edge of the Sea (1955) explores the habits of the many small creatures that live on shorelines and in tidepools accessible to any beachcomber: part identification guide, part hymn to ecological complexity, it is a book that conveys the sense of wonder in nature.

Watch: Our Planet on Netflix

If Silent Spring was a clarion call as to what’s coming if we do not pay attention, Our Planet is the visual proof of our complicity these 60 years on. A virtual symphony of what our world still has on offer, this doc finally moves beyond the Planet Earth series (oh so important in opening a space of awe of nature’s splendor) to call us out.

The voice here is urgent, unambiguous in its message: these fragile interconnected spaces are imperiled by human behavior. But not all is doom and gloom; there are resources and calls to action. It’s not too late. So love the images, the visuals are drop dead gorgeous. But pay attention (we hear you Rachel Carson) and our planet breathing, healthy, living.

Listen: Rachel Carson’s Dream Of The Sea

So she couldn’t swim, disliked boats, but before Rachel Carson published Silent Spring she wrote the above suggested Sea Trilogy.

If you’re not quite ready to commit to a trilogy, why not listen to Charlayne Woodward reading excerpts from it. You will be delighted and engaged with this from The New Yorker Radio Hour. So plug in and settle down by the side of the sea to this poetic visionary.

KL Dunn

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