I’m rifling through my bookshelves looking for books I should’ve read but haven’t, or old friends I’d like to reacquaint myself with. Reading seems like a good use of time while I’m practicing being a hermit. I mean, “social distancing.”
Do you mind if I share some of them with you? I thought I’d choose a book or two each week and offer them to you, in case you’re looking for an antidote to cabin fever.
My first suggestion may be obvious. Published in 1949, a year after the author’s death and ten years before RHA was founded, my paperback copy of this classic is well traveled. You’ve likely read Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, but how recently?
Like Leopold, and many of you, I came to my interest in the environmental movement through my love of the outdoors, not because of a book. But Leopold’s compact volume of essays (240 pages) helped frame the early study of ecology. It introduced many to the concept of the land ethic, the responsible relationship between people and the land.
Leopold said, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” Makes sense, right?
The land ethic is central to the mission of Raritan Headwaters, which is reason enough to read A Sand County Almanac. But Leopold was a visionary, and a philosopher, and a very fine writer. This classic is immensely readable, non-technical, and thought-provoking. You’ll feel like you’re taking a walk with Leopold, even if you’ve never been to the sand counties of southern Wisconsin. Personally, it motivates me.
If you don’t have a copy at home, there are ebook and audio versions available. If you’d like a paper copy, please buy it directly from the Aldo Leopold Foundation, aldoleopold.org. You’ll get a great read and support their work.
Good health and good reading!