Last week we co-hosted a climate change communication workshop at the KBS LTER with the Society of Environmental Journalists and MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. Bringing together 11 LTER scientists from across the LTER Network and 11 journalists from across the country, we explored ways to enhance communication about climate change. During one of the field tours, Dr. Merryl Alber, Project Director of the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER, was inspired to write the following poem. Dr. Alber is not new to creative writing, having recently published a children’s book titled ‘And the Tide Comes In,‘ a narrative about two young girls’ journey through the salt marsh ecosystem. Enjoy!
When I heard the learn’d agronomer
When I heard the learn’d agronomer;
When the corn and wheat were ranged in fields before me;
When I was shown the plots and the yield curves, for no till, fertilized, and watering;
When I, standing, heard the agronomer as he answered, with facts and charts, our questions.
How soon I saturated my working memory;
So, dreaming and lost in thought, I watched the plants sigh in the breeze
While the birds and the moths fluttered by, and from time to time,
Look’d out in perfect silence at the farm.
–Merryl Alber (with apologies to Walt Whitman)
When I heard the learn’d astronomer
When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room.
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wandered off my myself;
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
–Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass