Rachel Carson Scholar and Artwork to Appear in Damariscotta

Rachel Carson first visited Maine’s mid-coast almost 60 years ago, and the influence of the region’s sea and shore had profound and lasting impact on her writings, which launched the modern American environmental movement.

Now, in their first appearance in Maine, the original artwork that accompanied Rachel Carson’s first book, Under the Sea-Wind, comes to Damariscotta on Tuesday September 27, 2005, in a presentation about the famed author’s love for the Maine coast by Carson scholar Dr. John Juriga.  The evening event will be held between 7 and 9 p.m. in the Skidompha Public Library auditorium, 184 Main Street in Damariscotta.

This month’s presentation is a public “thank you” to Lincoln County and the communities of the Damariscotta-Newcastle area by the “Friends of Hog Island” and the Maine Audubon Society’s Hog Island Audubon Camp, in appreciation for their support for the venerable Hog Island institution, now in its 69th year as America’s oldest continually-operating environmental summer camp for adults, families, and youth.

“I checked out my first book at the Skidompha Public Library in the summer 1972, when I worked in the kitchen of the Hog Island Audubon Camp,” says David Klinger, president of the “Friends of Hog Island.”  “Since then, I’ve returned many summers, and this marvelous library has grown, as has the Audubon Camp.  We’ve had great support from the Damariscotta community through many years, and this event is just one small way we wish to express our collective thanks to our local neighbors for their continued goodwill.”

“Rachel Carson, Howard Frech, and Under the Sea-Wind” will offer a glimpse into Carson’s long and abiding relationship with the Maine coast, to which she journeyed in 1946 and returned, after building her cottage on Southport Island, every summer until her death in 1964.  The lecture will feature the original pencil drawings that famed Baltimore artist Howard Frech contributed to Carson’s first work of literature — art that has seldom been displayed since Under the Sea-Wind was first published in 1941.

Dr. Juriga, a Salisbury, Maryland, pediatrician who is associated with the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in that state, will offer a compelling and insightful look into the influence of the Maine seacoast on Carson, her writings, and her outlook on the natural world.  Dr. Juriga has served as guest curator for two major exhibits at the Salisbury art museum — “Witness for Nature:  The World of Rachel Carson” in 1999 and “Bob Hines:  National Wildlife Artist” in 2003.

The September 27 presentation will be held from 7-9 p.m. at the Skidompha Public Library in Damariscotta.  Admission is free, and a public reception and Rachel Carson book sale by Damariscotta’s Maine Coast Book Shop will follow the talk.

The “Friends of Hog Island” is a national support group for the Hog Island Audubon Camp, made up of former staff, alumni, and friends of the camp, which is located off Keene Neck Road in Bremen.  Members contribute their volunteer labor to the maintenance of the camp every June, raise funds to support its educational programs and growth, help preserve the Hog Island camp’s history, and maintain a Web site at www.fohi.org.  FOHI’s president, David Klinger, and Hog Island Audubon Camp director Seth Benz will welcome the audience during the September 27 evening talk.

Rachel Carson Visits Hog Island in 1960, “Returns” in 2004

One of the most famous visitors to the Audubon Camp in Maine was marine biologist and author Rachel Carson, who walked Hog Island trails in 1960 and later briefly wrote about her trip in the acclaimed Silent Spring. Miss Carson was present that year for the dedication of Hog Island as a perpetual sanctuary and the conveyance of the main part of Hog Island to the National Audubon Society, which had operated its nature camp on the Hog Island peninsula since 1936.

The historic photograph depicts Miss Carson (right) at the steps of the "Fish House" with Dr. Millicent Todd Bingham, owner of Hog Island, who joined (from left) National Audubon Society President Carl Buchheister, former Audubon president John Baker, and Audubon camp director Bart Cadbury for August 13, 1960, ceremonies marking Audubon's assumption of full ownership of Hog Island. Photo by Shirley A. Briggs.

History returned to the Audubon Camp on June 16, 2004, as Broadway and television actress Kaiulani Lee staged her one-woman show, “A Sense of Wonder,” in the camp “Fish House” for “Friends of Hog Island” work week volunteers and neighbors and supporters of the Maine Audubon Society. FOHI volunteers transformed the historic auditorium into a replica of a 1963-era Maine seaside cabin, from which Miss Lee delivered her soliloquy drawn from the writings of Rachel Carson in a one-hour, two-act evening performance before an audience of 50. A Maine native who spends much of the year in mid-coast Maine, Miss Lee walked Hog Island trails with FOHI participants, stopped at the dedication plaque and boulder at Long Cove, and pronounced the island setting “perfect” for her theatrical re-creation of Miss Carson’s poignant final summer in Maine. Her Audubon Camp appearance followed another performance the previous evening at the third “New-Cue Writers’ Conference and Workshop in Honor of Rachel Carson” in nearby Boothbay Harbor.


Rachel Carson Comes Alive for Hog Island Audience (7/04)

By Nancy Wilson, The Lincoln County News

“The Maine Audubon camp on Hog Island, Bremen, was busy last week.  For one thing, the Friends of Hog Island (FOHI) were there for the week, tending to their annual chores of post-winter cleanup; clearing trails, repairing and readying cabins for occupancy, and whatever else needed to be done. …”

NEW-CUE Writers Conference Scheduled for June 2004

Complement your Hog Island experience in 2004 by attending the Third Writers’ Conference and Workshop in honor of Rachel Carson, June 15-18 in nearby Boothbay Harbor, Maine, sponsored by NEW-CUE, a non-profit organization of writers and college educators keeping the legacy of Rachel Carson alive.

About the Conference

Nature and Environmental Writers/College and University Educators (NEW-CUE), a non-profit, environmental education organization based in Washington, D.C., will offer its Third Writers’ Conference and Workshop in honor of Rachel Carson at The Spruce Point Inn in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, from June 15-18, 2004. Writers, educators and the interested public are invited to attend.

The theme of the 2004 Conference/Workshop will be “Living Waters,” and the event will be held at one of New England’s finest waterfront resorts in an area that is well-known for tidal pools, coves and salt marshes. The Keynote Address will be delivered by ocean conservationist, Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean, Eye of the Albatross: Visions of Hope and Survival, and the Seafood Lover’s Almanac. Safina’s work has been profiled in The New York Times and on the Bill Moyers television special, “Earth on Edge.” He is currently president of the Blue Ocean Institute.

Other featured speakers and presenters will include Cape Cod essayist Robert Finch; Newbery Medal-winning author Jean Craighead George who will be joined by her daughter, author Twig George, a former Director of Education for the Center for Marine Conservation in Washington, D.C.; and poet Andrea Cohen who is the director of the Blacksmith House Reading Series in Cambridge, MA. In addition, there will be a performance of a one-woman play, A Sense of Wonder, based on the life and work of Rachel Carson with author/actress Kaiulani Lee. The program of events will also include a marine-life workshop offered by The Chewonki Foundation, presentations and guided activities including hikes led by guides from the Boothbay Region Land Trust, tide pool explorations with a marine biologist from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, and a trip to the Burnt Island Lighthouse.

For further details, information and photos from the 2002 Conference/Workshop, please visit our website at http://www.new-cue.org, or send an e-mail message to info@new-cue.org, or telephone (845) 398-4147.

Partners in discovery

Hog Island. The Audubon Camp in Maine.

The mere mention of these names brings an instant flood of memories of special people, scenes, and life-changing events which remain with me no matter where I roam on this planet. For me, and others like me, Hog Island was the first real introduction to the “Audubon Family,” that mix of Audubon members, program staff, and others from Maine to Hawaii who have a shared passion for the natural world and who respond with a knowing smile or nod when you wax enthusiastic about a warbler, puffin, or mushroom sighting on Muscongus Bay or some other natural spot. These members of the “Audubon Family” are kindred spirits, not only in exploring, enjoying, and wondering at the marvels of the natural world, but also in seeking knowledge about the processes and flow of human experiences. Hog Island provides a wonderful place to look inward as well as outward.

He turned to me and said, “I can’t believe that I’ve been around for fifty years and never knew that all this existed!”

For some of us, our experiences on Hog Island have had a significant impact on our professional lives by sparking an interest in teaching, conservation action, or research, or in renewing our spirit to return to our work with new energy and dedication. Often this inspiration came through interaction with one or more staff members or special guests during our sessions. I, for example, was privileged to hear inspiring presentations by former Audubon president Carl Buchheister, renowned ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson, and more recently, teachers and researchers such as Steve Kress. These people have provided me a mixture of historical perspective, technical knowledge, natural history, and poetry drawn from the rich inspiration of the natural world.

It was through my first involvement with the Camp in Maine in 1974 that I came to know Duryea Morton, then camp director and Vice-President for Education for the National Audubon Society. I vividly remember Dur’s way of interweaving the inspirational writings of Rachel Carson’s The Sense of Wonder into his opening night slide program on the beauties of Hog Island and Muscongus Bay for the newly-arrived campers. In particular, Dur stressed the need for each child in the world to have at least one adult to be a companion in the exploration and appreciation of the natural world, and that image has remained with me ever since.

During one of my first summers working with Dur, a father and daughter came to the camp, at the daughter’s request, as a celebration of her graduation from college. Several days after their arrival, I was on a boat trip with the father, a business executive in his fifties. Midway through that trip, he turned to me and said, “I can’t believe that I’ve been around for fifty years and never knew that all this existed!” Since then, this event has reminded me that sometimes adults need “child-like” experiences in the natural world to help support and sustain their own “sense of wonder,” particularly if their own childhoods were not rich in natural adventures or experienceshas.

Following three summer seasons as a bird life instructor at Hog Island, I was hired for a position at the Audubon Center in Greenwich, working as a teacher/naturalist during the school year and director of the Audubon Ecology Workshop for teachers during the summer months. Over the 23 years I have worked with those programs, not a week has gone by when I haven’t drawn upon lessons and inspirations I received during my time at the Camp in Maine. In many cases, our programs have enabled urban teachers to enjoy “childlike” experiences in natural settings, helping them to be more aware and better prepared to be partners in discovery of the natural world with their own students.

Luckily for me, I have been able to return to Hog Island periodically to lend a hand as an instructor for ornithology or family camp sessions. These opportunities have continued to prove how regenerative this special place can be. This past summer, during the family camp, while I was working with campers ranging in age from 9 to 69+, I watched once again, with pleasure, as Hog Island’s unique setting and natural wonders brought to life Rachel Carson’s words about the importance of sharing and sustaining a sense of wonder in both the young and the old.

Ted Gilman first came to the Maine Camp in 1974 as an ornithology instructor. When he wrote this essay in Fall 1999, he was working for NAS as education director at the Audubon Center in Greenwich, Connecticut.