| Today, January 11, 2013, marks the 125th birthday of conservationists, author, teacher and hero Aldo Leopold.
Growing up in a nature-loving family in a rural Wisconsin village, Leopold's writings and conservation ethic have always held a special place in my heart. Leopold's A Sand County Almanac ranks high on my list of books that most influenced me, and certainly I'm hardly alone in that respect.
Over the past few summers, we've been spending more and more time with my family in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin - a place where our family goes back six generations, to my great-great grandpa, who was the village blacksmith for 50 years. As a child, the sandhill cranes were long-gone from that part of the world, but over the past decade or so, the sandhill cranes have made a remarkable comeback and, when back there, I will see or hear sandhill cranes daily - something that would have seemed impossible decades ago.
To this day, when I hear the eerie, somewhat haunting and pre-historic, calls of the sandhill cranes I think of Aldo Leopold and offer my thanks and praise for his life's work.
If you get a chance this weekend, pick up your copy of A Sand County Almanac and let Leopold's words mesmerize and flow over you. The folks at GreenFire Media have also put together a great video on the life and legacy of Aldo Leopold. You can watch a nice 12 minute trailer here: http://vimeo.com/8669977.
Below are two of Leopold's quotes, which really touch me, as I'm sure they do others.
"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."
"We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I was young then, and full of trigger itch. I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunter's paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf, nor the mountain, agreed with such a view."