(As most of our members know, PATC recently purchased the 55 acres and home that belonged to Darwin Lambert and his wife, Eileen. They had already given 5 acres to the Club for the construction of Tulip Tree cabin; created without the benefit of high-energy consuming gas power tools; using tulip trees cut and stones collected from the site. Darwin has written about, and lived a life of reducing energy consumption. For him, this reduced consumption of products and energy resulted in a corresponding increase in happiness. This was the basis of what he called earthmanship.
PATC is pursuing the development of an education program on his former property, based on his earthmanship philosophy. After reading his autobiography, I have identified a number of excerpts that I would like to share with you that offer insights to his thoughts and his desires for the future. It is perhaps the ultimate expression and extension of the popular Leave No Trace philosophy.)
I probed into the influences and patterns of my conservation-environmentalism - and into the origins and aims of the way of life my second wife Eileen and I have followed since 1961, striving to “consume” less rather than more, finding happiness in loving and protecting nature - even capturing spiders and wasps alive inside the house and gently putting them outside to go on living.
(As a GWU biology student in 1935…) After another trip or two, consulting with Dr. Griggs, I adopted a botany project that demanded many more hours of work. I’d collect “all the wildflowers” of the proposed Shenandoah National Park - before the park was officially established and frowning on wildflower picking. I bought a second-hand Ford V-8 and started taking annual leave that I’d earned. Skyline Drive was partly constructed along the crest, so I could drive deep into the proposed area. Six miles north of US 211, I found a dirt road that would get me closer to Devil Stairs where I might photograph scenery while collecting specimens. I won a bonus that day - 13-year-old Winfield Sisk, who’d volunteered to guide me, took me to meet his family, one of nearly 500 mountain families who lived in the proposed park and were a worry to the National Park Service and to Virginia State. (Darwin spent much of the next year living with the Sisk family near the headwaters of the Thornton River. In fact, it was because the Sisk’s got up so early in the morning, that Darwin was at the Luray NPS office on March 1, 1936 at 8 am, to be sworn in as the first employee of the SNP!)
All the experiences seem to say I’ve spent my life pursuing happiness, and where I’ve finally caught up with it in the strongest and most lasting forms is along the paths and in the fields, forests and deserts of Earth (the planet including humans and all creatures). I feel I’ve found happiness primarily through a continuing effort to win harmony with nature.
I mow an early swath where a few wild strawberries and violets bloomed. The mowing, perhaps keeping down the competing grass, brings more strawberries where I mowed than where I didn’t mow. So - in future springs I’ll mow the whole area once, early, then not mow there again until after berries ripen and are picked. It’s conversation with Earth. On a sunnier part of the lawn, I recognize daisies and susans when tiny and mow around promising clumps. The many resulting flowers say, among other things, “Eileen, I love you.
We find our “standard of living” (rate of consumption and pollution of Earth’s resources) continuing to shrink while our pursuit of happiness prospers.
American rate of consumption - mistakenly called “standard of living.”
A persistent effort to harmonize with nature can be a significant personal and family source of lasting happiness.
Eileen and I were living in Shaver Hollow, as I thought of it, “from land to mouth.”
Charles Kurault’s “Sunday Morning” crew is unexpectedly knocking. The spotlight almost glares on Eileen and me (31.9 million copies distributed) in USA WEEKEND for Memorial Day 1992 where we “introduce” Shenandoah National Park.
Earthmanship, the art and science of living on Earth for maximum health and happiness while enhancing the planet’s resources and functions as the home of life.
Earthmanship means ability in living enjoyably and sustainably on Earth. We’re less the chosen creature and more the responsible creature.
Earthmanship, we think, has become the main job and privilege of humankind and must remain so if life is to reach far into the future. Our focus is on deep change of heart, enabling us to reject harmful technology and cling to (persevere in) helpful projects.
Earthmanship is a process - with living experience, research, and reverence for the wonders of the universe - continually helping to improve it. Eileen and I are guided by our conviction that earthmanship is reasonable-logical while also generating feelings of happiness and fulfillment. With us, it’s more rewarding than the so-called “high standard of living.”
The earthmanship task might be most aptly described as involving all mankind in improving the planet as a pleasant home for life, productive of material abundance and genuinely conducive to both physical and mental-emotional health.
My good news when I was reaching age 75 was First Lady Barbara Bush naming me a member of her “Green Team” of leading conservationists.
We’ve done a lot for this place; the soil is more fertile now; the life is more abundant and diverse. Yet the place has done more for us than we’ve done for it. This land is interwoven with us, with our spirits, bodies, minds, and emotions. We’ve learned multiple incentives and multiple rewards. We share glorious days and nights with birds and frogs, deer and foxes and bears, as well as with other humans, and with trees and the winds that rustle the leaves or sway the branches, and the creek that gurgles in its channel among boulders and carries life in many forms. Here we talk with Earth, are partners with Earth, creating together. We try to learn Earth’s ways and willingness’s and harmonize ours with them - and discuss and create also with human friends and institutions to keep learning humanity’s ways and willingness’s - to help toward fuller harmony, continuing our social membership without losing our citizenship in Earth