How have I not read this before? Lovely, lyrical writing that made me pause to admire turns of phrase. For example, in July, as the author waxes poetical about bird song, “We sally forth, the dog and I, at random. He has paid scant respect to all these vocal goings-on, for to him the evidence of tenancy is not song, but scent. Any illiterate bundle of feathers, he says, can make a noise in a tree.”
I loved the almanac structure and how it reflects the changing seasons. For example: “By September, the day breaks with little help from birds. A song sparrow may give a single half-hearted song, a woodcock may twitter overhead en route to his daytime thicket, a barred owl may terminate the night’s argument with one last wavering call, but few other birds have anything to say or sing about.”
“In June it is completely predictable that the robin will give voice when the light intensity reaches 0.01 candle power, and that the bedlam of other singers will follow in predictable sequence."
This is a very birdy book overall, which of course delighted me as a birder. “Distant crows are berating a hypothetical owl, just to tell the world how vigilant crows are”.
I was not enamored of all the hunting, but that’s a sign of the times, and at least even then Leopold showed restraint as a hunter and acknowledged the danger of over hunting. Leopold lamented our use of economic value to determine importance in 1949, and things have gotten much worse in that regard.
“The fallacy that economic determinists have tied around our collective neck, and which we now need to cast off, is the belief that economics determines all land use. That is simply not true.”
Reading A Sand County Almanac left me both awestruck at the beauty of the natural world and melancholy about the disappearance of wild places.
If you enjoy reading about nature and are worried about the future of our wild places, I recommend A Sand County Almanac.
The Galesburg Public Library has A Sand County Almanac in print and as an ebook. The Food for Thought book group will be discussing the book on August 23.