A Post-War Primer on Mother Nature

vintage illustration little girl watering plants

(L) Vintage illustration Little Golden Book “We Help Daddy” 1962 illustration by Eloise Wilkin (R) Vintage ad for Pesticides for garden pests

Birds and the Bees

First day of spring conjures up a childhood filled with  the anticipation of blooming flowers, budding trees  and a haze of pesticides being sprayed across my suburban neighborhood.

Talk about March Madness!

By the time I was 5 years old in the spring of 1960 Mother Nature began supplanting Mother Goose in my curiosity.

Now that it was spring, I was full of so many questions, about the environment; about things I heard, and felt, and saw.  But there were many questions even grown ups didn’t have an answer for…and even more questions they never seemed to ask.

Maternal Instincts

vintage illustrations of nature mother animals and young

Vintage children’s school Book “All Around Us”

Like my own mother, Mother Nature was trustworthy and reliable.

vintage illustration woman gardening  and children planting

The Miracle of Mother Nature

The big world could seem random and arbitrary so it was precisely the predictability, the certainty, the sheer regularity of Mother Nature, that like my own Mother, soothed me.

Earth Science

vintage childrens book illustration 1960 suburbia gardening children raking

Vintage Children’s School Book “Stories about Linda and Lee” 1960

The first warm spring day I couldn’t wait to get my hands into the dirt. There was something primal about the feel of sun-warmed soil. Thrusting my hands into the loamy garden soil warmed by the spring sun, I could actually feel the earth itself.

Sifting it through my hands I’d see the essential elements of the earth, bits of decaying plant matter, tiny particles of pebbles and rocks, maybe billions of years old, filled with industrious earthworms digging their way through the ground-maybe even all the way to China!

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

vintage illustration nature bird feeding its young

Vintage children’s school B ook “All Around Us”

Looking around, I noticed how our spindly little saplings were growing as fast as I was and now baby sparrows would be collecting in little groups on the branches, squeaking and chirping. On our shrubs hungry green insects could be found greedily chewing and swallowing the leaves into their tiny bellies.

As Dad was busy spraying the perpetrators on the plants, down would come a bird, looking for something to eat.

Spying what she was seeking, the Mama bird would happily fly away with the juicy green insect in her beak to feed to the baby birds.

The sweet smell of blooming French Lilacs that perfumed the air, blended with freshly spread fertilizer and the acrid aroma of the insecticides Melathione and Diazinon  gently wafting over from Dad’s tin atomizer sprayer.

He could mark his territory without even lifting a leg.

Mocking Bird

vintage illustration American family in yard gardening

Vintage illustration children’s work book “We Read Pictures” Dick Jane and Sally

These new miracle pesticides were right at home in this land of good humor and friendship. They belonged to pleasant living, and our right to enjoy them belonged to our American heritage of personal freedom.

American scientists were hard at work in the name of freedom. Man, they believed, should and could take over the management of the Mother Earth he lived on  and use it exclusively for what he regarded as mans higher purpose.

His needs.

Silent Spring Mornings

As the soft spring breeze carried the mist, the residual oil caressed my skin, the pesticide’s warming tingle, stimulated a healthy glow….my delicate skin tingling, and my little eyes tearing was Diazinon come to life.

The amalgam of scent so strong, its imprint would forever evoke spring. “Yes I can’t seem to forget you, your Diazinon stays on my mind,”  Dad hummed to himself.

Ah, pesticides, the subtlest form of communication between a man and nature.

Its aftermath, a lingering and memorable message.

Bye Bye Birdie

vintage childrens illustration baby bird feeding young 1950s

All day long, birds would come in the garden and fly away with the now caustically coated green insects.

Eventually, by summer’s end, the green plants would grow big and tall, but sadly, the baby birds  their bellies filled with the pesticides infused insects would never get to grow up at all.

vintage illustrations schoolbook mother nature

Which Ones Are Alive?
Vintage illustration children’s schoolbook 1950s

The beauty of outdoors…the feeling of life around us…that was the spirit of modern living!

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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