A Sand County Almanac: Aldo Leopold


Rex Grossman Will Rise Again
Jul 4, 2002
...reading this book right now. Not sure why I never did before as I've known of it for years. Really a well written and soothing book that I'd recommend for anyone who likes the outdoors.


There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.
To avoid the first danger, one should plant a garden, preferably where there is no grocer to confuse the issue.
To avoid the second, he should lay a split of good oak on the andirons, preferably where there is no furnace, and let it warm his shins while a February blizzard tosses the trees outside. If one has cut, split, hauled, and piled his own good oak, and let his mind work the while, he will remember much about where heat comes from, and with a wealth of detail denied to those who spend the week end in town astride a radiator.

There is an allegory for historians in the diverse functions of saw, wedge and axe.
The saw works only across the years, which it must deal with one by one, in sequence. From each year the raker teeth pull chips of fact, which accumulate in little piles, called sawdust by woodsmen and archives by historians; both judge the character of what lies within by the character of the samples thus made visible without. It is not until the transect is completed that the tree falls, and the stump yields a collective view of a century. By its fall the tree attests the unity of the hodge-podge called history.
The wedge, on the other hand, works only in radial splits; such a split yields a collective view of all the years at once, or no view at all, depending on the skill with which the plane of the split is chosen.

Aldo Leopold is of course, the sensible version of John Muir in case you've never heard of him. Not that I mind John Muir.

skinny mike

Turbo Monkey
Jan 24, 2005
i had to read it before i started school in the fall. it wasn't bad, but i just couldn't get into it the way other people in my class did. i might read it again at some point though.


Chelsea from Seattle
Apr 28, 2007
In the years when JBP cut his own wood and heated with it, he found that he was able to recognize each piece of wood as he committed it to the fire, and how and where it stood when whole.
HAB thinks it's stupid when people refer to themselves in the third person.