a sand county almanac (aldo leopold)

i just cracked this and damn… i’m sucked into the reverse chronological history of this dude recounting the events that a tree has survived as he works to fell it. i doubt it was set up to be so engrossing, but it’s some beautiful and surprisingly moving writing. whether this is planned or instinctual is something i’d love to know.

the diversity leopold describes in wandering around his property in 1940s wisconsin has me reading this with wikipedia in the other hand. it’s illuminating (and frustrating) to see how ignorant of so many wild/natural things i am. this is a major personal blind spot. how much of this diversity remains is something that continuously nags in the back of my mind. is this omnipresent and i just see “green”? i suspect so.

that said, the writing in this book is beautiful … full stop.

the last third of this book (“the upshot”) is where things really pick up. i suspect i need to go back and re-read a couple of chapters in here to really understand the arguments that he’s outlining. however, the upshot, (sigh …) here does seem to be that we should be actively re-wilding and preserving what limited wild spaces that we do have as aggressively as possible. he argues very effectively for the development of a conservation/land ethic.

interestingly, he outlines the notion of wilderness research as a form of outdoor recreation which candidly sounds pretty awesome. even in the 1940s-1950s he eviscerates the hunters who refuse to hunt too far from their cars.

random associations

deep in the throes of my current mid-life crisis, i’ve been following a number of outdoor blogs, podcasts and various bits of outdoor media randomalia. organizations such as Protect Our Winters (POW) and others are touting the power of the outdoor industry and its commercial influence to drive action on the part of politicians to address climate change and to effect legislation. iirc, the outdoor industry association was touting nearly $1T in overall spend in outdoor related consumer activity.

i wonder what aldo leopold would think of this.

hand waving wildly, it seems like the outdoor industry of the post-WW2 era was focused on hunting/fishing type sports. we see this in the stocking of lakes/streams for anglers and the introduction of non-native species to the great lakes with the explicit intent of stimulating tourism spend. less species extractive outdoors activities seem to be gaining traction broadly. (skiing, mountain biking, hiking, etc.) true backcountry activities require more of their participants. i wonder how much of our society is up for this kind of activity and whether there’s an effective means to educate and encourage conservation with out giving people a better taste for what it’s like to be truly in the wild. such as we apparently have it today.