There is so much to do as fall is counting down on me. Still, I have spent several weeks getting everything ready for Prairie Day at George Washington Carver National Monument. A few have asked ‘what I get from it’.

There is so much to do as fall is counting down on me. Still, I have spent several weeks getting everything ready for Prairie Day at George Washington Carver National Monument. A few have asked ‘what I get from it’.
It’s a bit hard to explain. It seems I’ve been gardening all my life. I don’t remember starting to garden, but I do know I was a teenager when I became interested in insecticide usage. One of my favorite pastimes was reading; encyclopedias, dictionaries, books about how the body works, and many forbidden books.
My awakening came with the reading of “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson, not long after she died in 1964. It was shortly after my 15th birthday that I settled down in the girls’ restroom to read her book on that forbidden list and a Webster Dictionary. The book starts with ‘A Fable for Tomorrow’. That fable has the line, “On the farms hens brooded, but no chicks hatched”.
I was living that fable in my own guilt. Hens get lice when they are cooped up. One of my chores was to dust with DDT, pesticide of choice. I always dusted until it was white. I didn’t want to get lice!  And the eggs the hens were setting on were cracking way to easily. Only a few baby chicks had hatched. In my heart, I knew I had caused the deaths of the chicks.
That book was pivotal in changing how I viewed any farm chemical. I cried for days over the deaths of any farm animal. I recognized how some chemicals seemed to be closely related to the illness or death of an animal.
Today the arsenal of pesticides has grown into the thousands. They invade every breathe we take, every drop of water we use, every speck of soil on the face of the earth.
Was it safer in 1860? Did humans have more concern for life?
As we modernized, manmade chemicals became more prevalent. We live longer today, but we have less physical labor today. Few of us milk a cow by hand, ride a horse to work, or climb down into a hand dug well to make it deeper.
At some time in our past we turned over everything we do to others and demanded ‘they’ protect us. We don’t have to take responsible for our health, safety, or even how to grow or prepare our own food. A new law or regulation can be made for any foreseeable or unforeseeable problem and ‘they’ will always find it and correct it.
That is why I make sure the food I eat is free of poisonous chemicals. That is why I care for the soil more than I care about how to kill all the insects in my garden. That is why I spend countless hours preparing my demonstrations.  And I hope as I entertain I’m showing others ways to take responsible for themselves.
This is my promissory note.


Linda Simmons writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.