This section of A Coastal Anthology is a compilation of excerpts about lakes and rivers, bays and marshes, beaches and coasts, that touch the human spirit. They are drawn from a broad range of works inspired by a passion for the water environment and the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, Thoreau, Emerson, and many others. The readings are not confined to the Mid Atlantic... but in most cases you CAN experience their essence somewhere along the East Coast.
For the earth is after all something more than a sort of huge breathing body. Admittedly it rises and falls, but more important is the fact that it must have begun at a certain moment; that it is passing through a consecutive series of equilibria; and that in all probability it is tending toward some final state. It has a birth, a development, and presumably a death ahead. Thus all around us, deeper than any pulsation that could be expressed in geologic eras, we must suppose there to be a total process which is not of a periodic character defining the total evolution of the planet; something more complicated chemically and deeper within matter than the 'cooling' of which we used to hear so much; yet something both continuous and irreversible. An ever-ascending curve, the points of transformation of which are never repeated; a constantly rising tide below the rhythmic tides of the ages -- it is on this essential curve, it is in relation to this level of the waters, that the phenomenon of life, as I see things, must be situated.
The inhabitants of cities suppose that the country landscape is pleasant only half the year. I please myself with the graces of the winter scenery, and believe that we are as much touched by it as by the genial influences of summer. To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again. The heavens change every moment, and reflect their glory or gloom on the plains beneath. The state of the crop in the surrounding farms alters the expression of the earth from week to week. The succession of native plants in the pastures and roadsides, which makes the silent clock by which time tells the summer hours, will make even the divisions of the day sensible to a keen observer. The tribes of birds and insects, like the plants punctual to their time, follow each other, and the year has room for all. By water-courses, the variety is greater. In July, the blue pontederia or pickerel-weed blooms in large beds in the shallow parts of our pleasant river, and swarms with yellow butterflies in continual motion. Art cannot rival this pomp of purple and gold. Indeed the river is a perpetual gala, and boasts each month a new ornament.
My hope is that these short excerpts will inspire you to read the actual works. Readers are encouraged to purchase or borrow from a library the complete texts of the works.
My intent here is to introduce the reader to the magnificent work of the featured authors. In each case links are provided to online sources where readers may purchase or borrow the authors' works and learn about the author.