Summary: (From John Mertz)
The Sand County Almanac is widely considered to be a classic among conservation and natural history writings. It is a collection of essays published in the year after Aldo Leopold’s untimely death in 1948. The essays are grouped three sections:
(1) A series of essays based on experiences Leopold acquired on his worn-out farm in Wisconsin’s sand counties. Leopold had purchased the farm in 1935 as a weekend retreat.
(2) The second part, “Sketches from Here and There,” relates experiences Leopold had acquired elsewhere during his life, mostly earlier in his life and service as an agent of the U.S. Forestry Service.
(3) The final set of essays is more philosophical. Here Leopold tackles the relationships between man and the environment. He discusses the importance of wilderness and of wildlife. He raises many of the issues conservationists face today, though in 1948 he could not have foreseen how badly that relationship has deteriorated.
I read this book at least once a year, mostly in the autumn when, if I am lucky and keep my ears cocked for their calls, I can see the flocks of geese flying overhead, traveling from their breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic to their wintering grounds in the coastal marshes of Delaware, Maryland, and points south. To me, their passage marks the true end of summer and the beginning of Nature’s transition to winter.
Free edition of the book to read: http://www.umag.cl/facultades/williams/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Leopold-1949-ASandCountyAlmanac-complete.pdf
Author's Foundation Site: https://www.aldoleopold.org/about/aldo-leopold/sand-county-almanac/
Yes Magazine: https://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/power-of-one/book-review-a-sand-county-almanac-by-aldo-leopold
NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/1999/11/13/opinion/a-sand-county-almanac-at-50.html
"This is one little episode in the funeral of the native flora, which in turn is one episode in the funeral of the flora of the world."
1. With his daughter, Estella: https://www.humansandnature.org/revisiting-sand-county-an-interview-with-estella-leopold
2. NPR: Revisiting Leopold: https://www.npr.org/2013/03/10/173949498/remembering-aldo-leopold-visionary-conservationist-and-writer
3. With Curt Meine: https://longwoodgardens.org/blog/2014-03-03t000000/sand-county-almanac-interview-curt-meine
1. A Prophet for all Seasons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_29ZlKyJJPo
2. Green Fire: https://www.aldoleopold.org/store/green-fire-dvd/
3. Learning from the Land: https://video.wpt.org/video/wpt-documentaries-aldo-leopold-learning-land/
Discussion Questions created by John Mertz - Unfortunately, he can not join us for the discussion.
(1) Leopold was, by profession, a scientist, one who asks questions of Nature in order to learn more about how Nature is structured and how it works. Where in these writings does Leopold exhibit that training?
(2) Leopold was also a consummate teller of stories, one who could tell a tale in a way that would really hold your interest. Where does he show that to best effect?
(3) Leopold could also be described as a philosopher, one who thinks deeply about the human condition and of the relationships between man and his/her surroundings. Where does he display this side of him most clearly? Is he still entertaining? Are his philosophical musings still relevant? Did he go far enough in his discussions of the man/environment dynamic? Given his time, could he have gone further?
(4) Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why should he/she read it?
(5) Leopold is often described as the “Father of Wildlife Management,” a distinct practical science. What did Leopold see as the purpose (or purposes) of Wildlife Management? Did he go far enough in his viewpoint to make this practical science truly sustainable? Do you agree with his assertion that the value of wilderness experiences diminishes in proportion to the gadgetry we employ in our pursuit of them? How has our employment of “gadgets” impacted on the sustainability of wild resources? Why is it that our pursuit of wild resources always seems to lead to their extinction?