A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC – “With Each March, Aldo Leopold Returns”February 25, 2012
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
226 pages, $6.95
I’m trying to do something different with each of these book reviews. For this one I’ve included some discussion questions I developed for a book club the Wisconsin Academy of Arts and Letters is starting in Madison this coming April. A Sand County Almanac is the first one on the schedule (if you are in the area check out www.AcademyBookClub.com).
Aldo Leopold starts by telling us that nature was taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question, Was it worth the price? He continues that conservation gets nowhere as long as we regard land as a commodity belonging to us, rather than to a community to which we belong that needs to be used with love and respect.
Here are my questions and a brief poem based on Leopold’s words:
1. Leopold start off by saying that we take nature for granted and are selling it down the river for a “higher standard of living.” He asks—we should ask—is it worth the cost. What do you think?
2. He goes on to say, “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity that belongs to us.” When we see it as a community to which we belong, as well as do the animals, birds, trees and plants, we appreciate it with a new love and respect. Is there a particular moment you can point to when you have felt this way very strongly?
3. Along with Henry David Thoreau and John Muir, Leopold is seen as one of the greatest writers about nature. Do you think it significant that both he and John Muir lived in Wisconsin? Why?
4. Why is living where you do significant to your ideas about yourself, about nature, about the rest of the world?
5. A Sand County Almanac is broken down by months. Pick a month that is important to you for some reason and describe the incidents that give it this special meaning in a way others here might also find significant to their lives.
With Each March, Aldo Leopold Returns
The cardinal whistling spring, but being a bit early
will resume a winter silence. A chipmunk waking
to a blizzard can go back to bed. But a migrating
goose! Hundreds of miles in black night, hoping
to find a hole in lake ice. That is the conviction of
a prophet who has burned his bridges.
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