Flush It Friday: A Sand County Almanac


Honk ’em if you skronk ’em.

I’d only heard of Aldo Leopold in passing, and, to be honest, I couldn’t even tell you how. I guess that it’s simply the amount of time I’ve spent in Wisconsin; I guess that “ALDO” shows up in crossword puzzles here and there; I guess that I have vague memories that my father had Leopold’s most famous book in our house growing up. But these are all guesses, not adding up to much. It all makes sense, of course, but I can’t say for certain it’s any for those things.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my BFFs and I have been reading books together. We pick an essay collection and read one essay per day, sharing our favourite sentence or passage with each other. Generally, we try to find books that have shorter essays, essays that can be read as part of a morning routine. Sometimes, of course, that gets a little tricky, and you simply have more pages than you have time that morning, so you shift the reading to whenever you can that day. The last book I picked was Hanif Abdurraqib’s They Can’t Kill Us Till They Kill Us, a book I already owned (so that’s sorta cheating), but one I wanted to read in light of his latest publication. It being my friend’s turn, she took inspiration from a friend and colleague who’s a biologist that we ought to read Leopold’s landmark A Sand County Almanac (and Sketches Here and There).

Originally published in 1949, one year after Leopold died fighting a grass fire on a neighbour’s farm, A Sand County Almanac–we got the 75th anniversary copy released this year from Oxford UP—is a beautiful volume, replete with vibrant and lively sketches from wildlife artist and fellow conservationist Charles S. Schwartz as well as a type of nature writing that was original for its time and for its a sense of clarity, authenticity, humour, authority, love, care, and revealing style retains its startling originality. As of yesterday, we finished the essays that constitute the Sand County essays. Today, we embarked on the Sketches Here and There, beginning, of course, with the Badger State.

Leopold’s life is worth reading about and he has been rightly decorated for his achievements in ecology, forestry, conservation movements, land stewardship, as well as for broadening the scope of how people thought about ecological systems. If you’ve ever read Robin Wall Kimmerer, you will find a kindred spirit in Leopold.

Here’s a few choice quotes I’ve selected over the last week and a half with Leopold:

On letting alone diseased flora: “Finally I cut open the terminal bud of a jackpine, and in its core I found the answer. The grouse had eaten the buds, digested the pitch, rubbed off the scales in his gizzard, and left the cob, which was, in effect, the forthcoming candle. One might say that this grouse had been speculating in jackpine ‘futures.'”

On a love for pines: “I cannot dislike a plant that enables me, a mere professor, to blossom forth annually as a successful seer and prophet. It is evident that our plant biases are in part traditional.”

On singing birds: “We felt honored by this daybreak hymn sung almost at our doorstep. Somehow the blue autumnal needles on those pines became thenceforth bluer, and the red carpet of dewberry under those pines became even redder.”

On deforestation and the wrecking of native habitats: “This is one little episode in the funeral of the native flora, which in turn is one episode in the funeral of the floras of the world. Mechanized man, oblivious to floras, is proud of his progress cleaning up the landscape on which, willy-nilly, he must live out his days. It might be wise to prohibit at once all teaching of real botany and real history, lest some future citizen suffer qualms about the floristic price of his good life.”

And, finally, on a favourite critter of mine, the plover (though I prefer the lesser plover who resides in coastal Georgia: “Whoever invented the word ‘grace’ must have seen the wing-folding of the plover.”

Beautiful! Fill your life with Leopold’s genius and wisdom and conscientiousness.

But before you do that, you know what we gotta do. We gotta fluuuuuuuuush:

Stickness with the Monday thicknessRold with the Tuesday Gold. Now I want pretzels.

The 500th episode of Toilet Radio landed this week. Joe and Jordan welcomed back Brenocide for the celebration.

Toilet Radio 500 – A Quincentennial Celebration (pt. 1)

If you can believe it, I premiered a sick track from a Transcending Obscurity band. Check the new ripper from Carnophage.

Exclusive Track Premiere: Carnophage’s “From Possibility to Actuality”

There it is! The week that was in Toilet history. Hit us with those GBUs in the comments. May your Goods be bountiful and longlasting. May your Bads be brief and transitory. May your Uglies be silly and funny. I’m a hoochie for some smoochies, so hugs and kisses to you all.

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