Come High Water


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This is the text of Leopold's essay "Come High Water" paired with beautiful images. This presentation can be used as a backdrop for public readings of the essay.

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Come High Water

  1. 1. On this SlideShare page, you will find several Power Point presentations, one for each of themost popular essays to read aloud from A Sand County Almanac at Aldo Leopold Weekendevents. Each presentation has the essay text right on the slides, paired with beautiful images thathelp add a visual element to public readings. Dave Winefske (Aldo Leopold Weekend eventplanner from Argyle, Wisconsin) gets credit for putting these together. Thanks Dave!A note on images within the presentations: we have only received permission to use theseimages within these presentations, as part of this event. You will see a photo credit slide as thelast image in every presentation. Please be sure to show that slide to your audience at leastonce, and if you dont mind leaving it up to show at the end of each essay, that is best. Also pleasenote that we do not have permission to use these images outside of Aldo Leopold Weekendreading event presentations. For example, the images that come from the Aldo LeopoldFoundation archive are not “public domain,” yet we see unauthorized uses of them all the time onthe internet. So, hopefully that’s enough said on this topic—if you have any questions, just let usknow. mail@aldoleopold.orgIf you download these presentations to use in your event, feel free to delete this intro slide beforeshowing to your audience.
  2. 2. Come High Water
  3. 3. The same logic that causes big rivers always to flow past big cities
  4. 4. causes cheap farms sometimes tobe marooned in spring floods.Ours is a cheap farm, andsometimes when we visit it in Aprilwe get marooned.
  5. 5. Not intentionally, of course, but one can, to a degree guess from weatherreports when the snows up north will melt, and one can estimate howmany days it takes for the flood to run the gauntlet of upriver cities.
  6. 6. Thus, come Sunday evening, one must go back to town & work, but onecant. How sweetly the spreading waters murmur condolence for thewreckage they have inflicted on Monday morning dates!
  7. 7. How deep and chesty the honkings of the geese as they cruise overcornfield after cornfield, each in process of becoming a lake.
  8. 8. Every hundred yards some new goose flails the air as he struggles to leadthe echelon in its morning survey of this new and watery world.
  9. 9. The enthusiasm of geese for high water is a subtle thing, and might beoverlooked by those unfamiliar with goose gossip,
  10. 10. but the enthusiasm of carp is obvious and unmistakable. No sooner hasthe rising flood wetted the grass roots than here they come, rooting andwallowing with the prodigious zest of pigs turned out to pasture,
  11. 11. flashing red tails and yellow bellies, cruising the wagon tracks and cow-paths, and shaking the reeds and bushes in their haste to explore what tothem is an expanding universe.
  12. 12. Unlike the geese and the carp, the terrestrial birds and mammals accepthigh water with philosophical detachment.
  13. 13. A cardinal atop a river birch whistles loudly his claim to a territorythat, but for the trees, cannot be seen to exist.
  14. 14. A ruffed grouse drums fromthe flooded woods; he mustbe perched on the high end ofhis highest drumming log.
  15. 15. Meadow-mice paddle ridgeward with the calm assurance of miniature muskrats.Copyright, John White
  16. 16. From the orchard bounds a deer, evicted from his usual daytime bed inthe willow thickets.
  17. 17. Everywhere are rabbits, calmlyaccepting quarters on our hill, whichserves, in Noahs absence, for an ark.
  18. 18. The spring flood brings us more thanhigh adventure; it brings likewise anunpredictable miscellany of floatableobjects pilfered from upriver farms.
  19. 19. An old board stranded on our meadow has, to us, twice the value ofthe same piece new from the lumberyard. Each old board has itsown individual history, always unknown, but always to some degreeguessable from the kind of wood, its dimensions, itsnails, screws, or paint, its finish or the lack of it, its wear or decay.
  20. 20. One can even guess, from the abrasion of itsedges and ends on sandbars, how many floodshave carried it in years past.
  21. 21. Our lumber pile, recruited entirely from the river, is thus notonly a collection of personalities, but an anthology of humanstrivings in upriver farms and forests.
  22. 22. The autobiography of an old boardis a kind of literature not yet taughton campuses, but any riverbankfarm is a library where he whohammers or saws may read at will.Come high water, there is alwaysan accession of new books.
  23. 23. There are degrees and kinds of solitude. Anisland in a lake has one kind; but lakeshave boats, and there is always the chancethat one might land to pay you a visit.
  24. 24. A peak in the clouds has another kind; but most peaks have trails, andtrails have tourists. I know of no solitude so secure as one guarded by aspring flood; nor do the geese, who have seen more kinds and degrees ofaloneness than I have.
  25. 25. So we sit on our hill beside anew-blown pasque,
  26. 26. and watch the geese go by. I see our roaddipping gently into the waters, and I conclude(with inner glee but exterior detachment)
  27. 27. that the question of traffic, in or out, is for this day at least, debatable onlyamong carp.
  28. 28. Photo Credits•Historic photographs: Aldo Leopold Foundation archives•A Sand County Almanac photographs by Michael Sewell•David Wisnefske, Sugar River Valley Pheasants Forever, Wisconsin Environmental Education Board, WisconsinEnvironmental Education Foundation, Argyle Land Ethic Academy (ALEA)•UW Stevens Point Freckmann Herbarium, R. Freckmann, V.Kline, E. Judziewicz, K. Kohout, D. Lee, K Sytma, R.Kowal, P. Drobot, D. Woodland, A. Meeks, R. Bierman•Curt Meine, (Aldo Leopold Biographer)•Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Education for Kids (EEK)•Hays Cummins, Miami of Ohio University•Leopold Education Project, Ed Pembleton•Bird Pictures by Bill Schmoker•Pheasants Forever, Roger Hill•Ruffed Grouse Society•US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Forest Service•Eric Engbretson•James Kurz•Owen Gromme Collection•John White & Douglas Cooper•National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)•Ohio State University Extension, Buckeye Yard and Garden Online•New Jersey University, John Muir Society,, and Labor Law Talk