Paddling with Carson and Byron

The entrance to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences has a sculpture and native plant garden honoring the great writer Rachel Carson.

Carson is sculpted with her trousers rolled up, feet in a pond, showing two children the creatures in the water. Despite being dressed for oration instead of investigation, I decided to join her for a paddle. Stephen Garrett, a friend and former student who came to my talk was kind enough to take a photo or two. He was also kind enough not to say anything about my unsophisticated camera gear (he’s a pro, so I hesitated to hand over my little pixel-snatching machine).


Child, Genius, and Grinnin' Fool.

The Museum also had this nice quote painted in large print across one of its walls. In my experience, Lord Byron is not someone often featured in the halls of science or natural history museums. It is a pity that they left off the last four lines, “From these our interviews, in which I steal/From all I may be, or have been before,/To mingle with the Universe, and feel/What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.” ..stealing away from past and future, to the inexpressible present…nicely done.

“Lonely” the museum was not. There were an impressive number of people visiting its excellent exhibits. And, on April 20th, the museum will open a big new wing featuring “How Do We Know?” exhibits — e.g., “Dinosaurs taste like chicken — How do we know?” Good question. (I hear one answer from my Tennessee grilling friends: Yessir, but here in Tennessee our chickens taste a little better ‘n that, it’s in how you cook’em. Those Raleigh folks don’t know how its done.)

If you’re headed to Raleigh, I strongly recommend a visit (but not yet — the whole museum closes tomorrow to complete the last stages of construction).

3 thoughts on “Paddling with Carson and Byron

  1. Anonymous

    Carson, Student, and Haskell–Yes! Taking your place among the lauded and the humble, honorable, both. ) Speaing of humble, honorable, and honored students, do you hear anything from Jia. I’ve notheard in awhile.
    Thanks for finishing the quotation from “Childe Harold.” That museum looks well worth the travel and effort, a destination in itself. So enjoyed your lecture and look forward to discovering your Forest Unseen. How’s the new baby goat? Kay MacKenize

    1. David George Haskell Post author

      Kay, I have not heard from Jia, but I need to get back to him about an manuscript soon. I assume he is doing well at Duke. As for me, I am so far behind Carson (and others) in those categories that it is not even funny. However, I was very pleased to see her honored and remembered in this way. She led the way for so many others.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s