Earth Day: Quotes from “Sand County Almanac”

4 Apr

For an environmentalist I am shamefully lax in the “classics” of environmental literature. I haven’t read Walden or Silent Spring, I’ve never even seen a Farley Mowat book, and I’ve only *mumble mumble* Last Child in the Woods. Yet Sand County Almanac is the one classic that I have read and re-read and will probably read again. It’s Leopold’s writing and his keen observations that keep bringing me back to it.

Sand County Almanac

“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. On is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.

To avoid the first danger, one should plant a garden, preferably where there is no grocer to confuse the issue.

To avoid the second, he should lay a split of good oak on the andirons, preferable where there is no furnace, and let it warm his shins while a February blizzard tosses the trees outside. If one has cut, split, hauled, and piled his own good oak, and let his mind work the while, he will remember much about where the heat comes from, and with a wealth of detail denied to those who spend the week in town astride a radiator.”

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“One hundred and twenty acres, according to the County Clerk, is the extent of my worldly domain. But the County Clerk is a sleepy fellow, who never looks at his record books before nine o’clock. What they would show at daybreak is the question here at issue.

Books or no books, it is a fact, patent both to my dog and myself, that at daybreak I am the sole owner of all the acres I can walk over. It is not only boundaries that disappear, but also the thought of being bounded. Expanses unknown to deed or map are known to every dawn, and solitude, supposed no longer to exist in my county, extends on every hand as far as the dew can reach.”

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“That whimsical fellow called Evolution, having enlarged the dinosaur until he tripped over his own toes, tried shrinking the chickadee until he was just too big to be snapped up by flycatchers as an insect, and just too little to be pursued by hawks and owls as meat. Then he regarded his handiwork and laughed. Everyone laughs at so small a bundle of large enthusiasms.”

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~Robin

P.S. Pictures are of Herald (that was our stove’s name) in Bear Brook State Park, Sunrise in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and Chickadees at the Brecksville Reservation.

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