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Slow Seeing

Full Details

Rachel Carson is best known for her ground-breaking reporting on the pesticide DDT in her book Silent Spring. But even before Carson started researching the detrimental effects of DDT, she was viewing the world as an artist and a naturalist, and writing down her observations in vignettes that would eventually be collected, published, and celebrated. Note in the following excerpts how Carson seems to slow down time with her writing, allowing us to notice details about water, shadows, birds, waves…
Flood Tide
Although it was a small island, so small that a gull might have flown across it with a score of wing beats, night had already come to its northern and eastern end. Here the marsh grasses waded boldly out into dark water, and shadows lay thick among the low-growing cedars and yaupons.
With the dusk a strange bird came to the island from its nesting grounds on the outer banks. Its wings were pure black, and from tip to tip their spread was more than the length of a man's arm. It flew steadily and without haste across the sound, its progress as measured and as meaningful as that of the shadows which little by little were dulling the bright water path. The bird was called Rynchops, the black skimmer.
The Sea: Wind, Sun, and Moon
As the waves roll toward Lands End, at the westernmost tip of England, they bring a feeling of distant places of the Atlantic. Moving shoreward above the steeply rising floor of the deep sea, from dark-blue water into troubled green, they pass the edge of “soundings” and roll up over the continental shelf in confused ripplings and turbulence. Over the shoaling bottom, they sweep landward, breaking on the Seven Stones of the channel between the Scilly Isles and Lands End, coming in over the sunken ledges and the rocks whose glistening backs are laid bare at low water.
This week, dear writers, take in the world slowly. Spend time observing nature (if you live in a city, this could be a park, or the sky, or the tree down the street), and write about a natural phenomenon with Carson’s attention to detail. Need more inspiration? rosie and sarah leying slow down time with these memorable moments.