By Gene Stratton-Porter
Booklet through Stratton-Porter, Gene, Plum, Sydney Landon
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Extra info for Coming through the swamp: the nature writings of Gene Stratton Porter
Included in the essay "The Music of the Marsh" is a first version of an environmental warning Stratton Porter repeated in "The Search for 'Three Birds'" in Tales. She rails against "cutting down the clouds," which is what she called the process by which the Limberlost Swamp was being drained. Like Mary Austin confronting the Owens River project, Gene Stratton Porter saw the ''reclamation" work in Noble County and was horrified. Drying up the springs, drying up the streams, and lowering the lake meant to exterminate the growth by running water, meant to kill the great trees that had flourished since the beginning of time around the borders of the lakes, meant to kill the vines and shrubs and bushes, the ferns and the iris and the water hyacinths, the arrowhead lilies and the rosemary and the orchids, and it meant, too, that men were madly and recklessly doing an insane thing without really understanding what they were doing.
When a representative from Kodak came to see how she got such quality work from their papers and chemicals, she modestly declined to show him her darkroom/bathroom with its turkey-platter developing tray, and attributed her success to clean water. However, in early articles for various photographic periodicals, passages in essays, and in What I Have Done With Birds Stratton Porter proudly discussed her methods and their results. In a series of articles for the American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times-Bulletin Almanacs, written between 1901 and 1905, Gene Stratton Porter explained her reasons for taking up photography and her purposes in devoting so much time and energy to photographic studies of birds.
It is as if Kate Bates's desire sets in motion the forces which will lead to the physical and spiritual ravagement of Ginny, Smiley's protagonist. Stratton Porter energetically espoused her ideal of wholesome human life flourishing in the natural world. The moralism and sentimentality which inform her ideal may work against contemporary acceptance of the novels. Still, these features, and the skillful depiction of specific settings, contributed to her popularity in her time and to her readers' commitment to the preservation of birds and bird habitats.