Last spring, we added a brood of chickens to our family. We decided that officially made our property a farm and started brainstorming names. I hadn’t officially heard back on my internship placement at the Bradbury Center yet, but was hopeful, and had been rereading The Martian Chronicles in anticipation. I suggested we name our farm for one of my favorite Martian Chronicles stories, and my partner, who had just finished the collection for the first time, agreed. Now we call our little piece of forested valley Green Morning Farm.
What does Ray Bradbury, who spent decades exploring Mars and other extraterrestrial destinations in his mind and on paper, have to do with Earth Day?
In April 2020, Amy Brady wrote in Catapult magazine about how Bradbury’s fiction, especially The Martian Chronicles, makes the impact humans have on environments visible. In her column, Brady highlights evidence of Bradbury’s critiques of unchecked capitalism and its disastrous effects on the environment and already vulnerable communities. This is an apparent theme in stories such as “–and the Moon Be Still as Bright,” “The Locusts,” and “The Naming of Names,” but I’m not sure Bradbury would agree his stories were outright critiques as much as thoughtful examinations of the human condition.
An article on JSTOR Daily by Franco Laguna Correa written in January 2020, shortly before Brady’s column, highlights something important that I think Brady overlooked. Laguna Correa pointed out that in his fiction, Bradbury often oscillates between imagining dystopic and utopian futures. This is true even in The Martian Chronicles, where the gorgeous story “The Green Morning” provides a more hopeful answer to the question Laguna Correa imagines Bradbury asking us today: “what role will you play, when my future comes crashing into your present?”
In “The Green Morning,” Benjamin Driscoll refuses to leave Mars when he’s told his lungs aren’t strong enough for survival in the thin air. Instead, he dedicates himself to planting trees across the barren landscape. But when rain doesn’t come in thirty days, he worries his efforts have been in vain. Finally, two brief hours of rain arrive overnight, and full-grown trees shoot up from the mysterious old soil. Driscoll wakes to a green morning and a current of fresh, cold air, to be enjoyed by everyone.
“The Green Morning” might be little more than a whisper of hope amongst Bradbury’s dire warnings about humans’ impact on the environment. But it’s one I want to hold onto, which is why it seemed an appropriate name for our family farm. Even in the face of uncertainty, we can persevere, and plant seeds with the hope that when rain finally comes, the fruits will be beautiful beyond our wildest imaginings.
By Sarah Whaley