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Thursday Snapshot: Aldo Leopold Foundation

A quote from Leopold on the grounds of the foundation.

Earlier this year we visited the Aldo Leopold Foundation. We had just watched a short documentary about his life and work, Green Fire, at my hometown library and were deeply moved by it. The similarities to my husband's family's efforts to restore habitat on family land struck us, but for me the film reminded me of what is best about my home state and region. There is a great deal that worries me at the moment and many things that I struggle with, yet what brought all of us together in that room was a love for place. It was a kind of comfort then, and my memory of the discussion afterward reminds me that there is good work underway and in many places.

We were also surprised to realize that the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the shack where Leopold wrote his seminal work, The Sand County Almanac, was less than 20 miles away. We drove there the next day along a road I walked as a child with my grandmother and past Pine Island, a refuge I often visited with my family in the fall to take in the vast numbers of geese that paused there on their annual migration.

I read The Sand County Almanac in my final year of university and, like so many others around the world, found that it opened my mind to a sort of common sense approach to living in the world that I had long felt was lacking. Leopold describes the changes in the landscape throughout the seasons as well his family efforts to restore a land decimated by logging and overgrazing. He had come to understand that while these practices were grounded in economics, they were also shortsighted in many ways. His years of experience, the successes and failures, taught him that we needed to work in concert with all parts of nature, even those like the wolf, that we did not like. The resulting Land Ethic is one that is simple but complex and multi-faceted and one that can be challenging to live up to at times. However, most things that are worthwhile doing are similar until we get the hang of them. I'm certainly game to keep at it.


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