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18 September 2012 @ 12:08 pm
I'm up in the cabin in Maine with my family--Mum, Da, Dweeb, Unk (my uncle). We came up last night, we're here for today, and we're leaving sometime tomorrow; it's a very short trip. What with the new dormers, it's less of a cabin in the woods and more of a castle in the woods, too! (Still small-ish, but at least now there'll be two floors instead of one and a half.)

This may shock some or all of you, but today I was up at 9am. On a vacation. After a pretty crummy night's sleep of tossing and turning through the night. (And, true, I was woken because the family had to start work up on the second floor and I had to call my chiropractor to reschedule my appointment.)

But why am I happy about it?

Because I came downstairs and researched Rachel Carson's summer home; I am an hour and a half away from it. Unlike her Pennsylvania and Maryland homes, which now host public events and (I think both) have organisations caring for them, her famous Maine home is more secretive. It's very public knowledge that the home is on Southport Island, which isn't too big, and quite public knowledge that she could see the mouth of the Sheepscot River, which puts her on the west and probably northern part (by common sense).

Today I searched around every search term I could think. In the end I found a question by a person taking a vacation nearby to hike, and wondered if anyone could also give the location of Rachel Carson's old summer home. Most answers ignored that part of the question or could only say "no idea" (with one "good luck!"). The last real answer mentioned that she was on Dogfish Head, which is smaller still. I started searching Dogfish Head and found that she has a house near the Hendricks Head Lighthouse, which is a bit farther south than Dogfish Head, but in Google books that I searched it seemed to imply that Dorothy Freeman (her best friend/soul mate/subtextual friend) was the one with a cottage firly on Dogfish Head, but that Rachel had to walk through the woods to get to the "Head" (and ultimately to Dorothy).

(The book being Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature by Linda Lear. The book also mentions "the singular romantic nature of their friendship" (which, admittedly, made me smile) and starting as early as February 1954 (my birth month!). Anyway...

"The two women saw each other briefly several times more before Rachel penned a farewell letter to Dorothy. But in her own mail that same day, Rachel found a sweet thank-you letter from Dorothy that prompted her to add a postscript telling her new friend "how happy we are that you took the trouble to write me last winter and start this very pleasant friendship. I, too, feel a strong bond of common interests--and that we have the same feeling about many things." But Rachel wanted further assurance that Dorothy felt this bond as strongly as she, and so made an excuse that evening to walk down through the woods to the Head to say a last good-bye to the Freemans, this time impulsively leaving Dorothy with a kiss."

"Rachel had been anxious about her paper because of the notable scientists present in the audience, and she was relieved when it was over. To her surprise, she found Dorothy had arrived early and, instead of going on to the hotel as they had planned, was waiting in the crowd at the rear of Mechanics Hall. Rachel greeted her with a kiss, whispering, 'We didn't plan it this way did we?"

(I wish I could copy this whole section for you, really, but I'll at least include this because it explains one of the terms I use pretty often:

To ease the tension, Rachel suggested to Dorothy that they occasionally write letters in two parts, a general letter that could be shared with her mother or with Stan without incurring any feelings of jealousy or exclusion and another just for their private reading. "After all," Rachel wrote, "our brand of 'craziness' would be a little hard for anyone but us to understand." They began the practice of putting a private letter inside another letter that was meant to be read out loud, referring to these letters within letters as "apples." When they both wrote of the same thing, or thought the same way about something, which happened with increasing frequency, they called it "stardust" or referred to it as being "stardusty."

The 'tension' was of Rachel's mother's jealousy (her mother was quite jealous and possessive by the end) and Dorothy's husband's awareness, although his was less difficult and jealous (he merely noticed how preoccupied and deeply involved Dorothy was in her friendship with Rachel). The "craziness" Rachel mentions is just the way they mutually made fun of how many letters went between Silver Spring (Rachel's Maryland home) and West Bridgewater (Dorothy's); they rejoiced that they were at least "both 'crazy' in the same way, and at the same time.")

So now I have an approximation. It was also mentioned in that first comment--about Dogfish Head--that the whole of Southport is small enough that most residents would likely know and be willing to point out. And on the way I'd pass the Southport General Store, so... I'd at least have to pop in there. (: It's not as though I'm going to go tromp up to the house; it'd just be nice to know which, and perhaps see if there's any public land to explore. But to just be in the area...that would be wonderful. I can't believe I just have to follow 27 and get through Augusta to be there!

I also learned, from that same book, that Rachel Carson named her summer home "Silverledges". I approve.

That has been my morning researh. Another Rachel Carson post. You know, just in case I don't ramble about her enough. I'm not going to visit today since this is our only full day here, but perhaps next year.

(I also really need to get that book. And have a 'Rachel Carson' collection. On 27 September it's the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring's publication! And apparently Nellie McKay dyed her hair brown and started showing her one-woman musical-comedy tribute a few months back. I love the world today.)
minervas_eule: Weisheitseuleminervas_eule on September 18th, 2012 04:46 pm (UTC)
That seems a wonderful book to search for clues in :-) - and to be so close to the place at the time... how exciting!

I can picture Dorothy's husband's awareness exactly!
Kiwi Crocus: HP || Rolanda || Quidditch from above.cranky__crocus on September 28th, 2012 04:35 am (UTC)
It certainly is a wonderful book for clues! ...So wonderful that I had to buy a used copy online. :P When I got it, even though I was up to productive things, I stopped everything and opened it up. There are two separate sets of pictures, including a few of Rachel and Dorothy together that I hadn't seen (and melted when I did--Rachel's face while look at Dorothy, given Rachel is such a private person, seems very intimate!). Then I got to the picture with the part of the Sheepscot River where Dorothy spread Rachel's ashes and I got all teary.

I've hardly met anyone else who gets so invested in seemingly random people in history! (Honestly, it's one of the reasons I'm glad to have met Tetley! :P)

Yes, I imagine you can. And Stanley [husband] did join in the fun sometimes, with trips down to the tidepools and all; he took many of the photos of Rachel or all of them together. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for the conversations they all had about the relationship.