A Summer in Maine
1946 On this day, the environmentalist Rachel Carson arrived in Maine and she promptly fell in love with the state.
That summer, she rented a cabin on the Sheepscot River. She wrote:
“The only reason I will ever come back is that I don’t have brains enough to figure out a way to stay here for the rest of my life. … My greatest ambition is to be able to buy a place here and then manage to spend a great deal of time [here]."
Rachel's time in Maine resulted in her classic book The Sea Around Us. And it made it possible for Rachel to realize her dream. In 1953, She bought a summer home in Maine.
Five years later, Olga Owens Huckins and her husband, Stuart, observed birds and insects dropping dead in her Duxbury garden within 24 hours of the Massachusetts State Mosquito control program spraying DDT over her bird sanctuary at a rate of 2 pounds per acre. The day Olga's property was sprayed, the pilot had extra DDT fuel oil in his tank, and he decided to dump it right over Olga's land.
As a former Boston newspaper reporter, Olga voiced her anger and frustration in an editorial. Olga wrote,
“The ‘harmless’ shower-bath killed seven of our lovely songbirds outright. We picked up three dead bodies the next morning right by the door. They were birds that had lived close to us, trusted us, and built their nests in our trees year after year.”
After writing the paper, Olga wrote another letter to her old friend Rachel Carson. Olga's letter sparked four years of research for Rachel. She put it all together in a book called Silent Spring. Rachel's book opened people's eyes to the hazards of DDT, and public opinion eventually forced the banning of DDT in 1972.
Today, Olga & Stuart's property has new owners. Judith and Robert Vose, III, continue to preserve the site as a bird sanctuary and also as a way to honor the brave women who stepped forward when it was put in harm's way: Olga Huckins and Rachel Carson.