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 least once,and if you dont mind leaving it up to show at the end of each essay, that is best. Also please notethat we do not have permission to use these images outside of Aldo Leopold Weekend readingevent presentations. For example, the images that come from the Aldo Leopold Foundationarchive are not “public domain,” yet we see unauthorized uses of them all the time on theinternet. So, hopefully that’s enough said on this topic—if you have any questions, just let usknow. firstname.lastname@example.orgIf you download these presentations to use in your event, feel free to delete this intro slide beforeshowing to your audience.
If his back be strong and hisshovel sharp, there mayeventually be ten thousand.
And in the seventh year hemay lean upon his shovel,and look upon his trees,and find them good.
God passed on his handiwork as early asthe seventh day, but I notice He hassince been rather noncommittal about itsmerits. I gather either that He spoke toosoon, or that trees stand more lookingupon than do fig leaves and firmaments.
Why is the shovel regarded as asymbol of drudgery? Perhapsbecause most shovels are dull.Certainly all drudges have dullshovels, but I am uncertain which ofthese two facts is cause & whicheffect. I only know that a good file,vigorously wielded, makes my shovelsing as it slices the mellow loam.
I am told there is music in thesharp plane, the sharp chisel, andthe sharp scalpel, but I hear it bestin my shovel; it hums in my wristsas I plant a pine.
I suspect that the fellow who tried so hard to strike one clearnote upon the harp of time chose too difficult an instrument.
It is well that the planting season comes only in spring, for moderation isbest in all things, even shovels.
During the other months you may watch the process of becoming a pine.
The pines new year begins in May,when the terminal bud becomes“the candle”. Whoever coined thatname for the new growth hadsubtlety in his soul.
The candle sounds like aplatitudinous reference toobvious facts: the newshoot is waxy, upright,brittle. But he who liveswith pines knows thatcandle has a deepermeaning, for at its tip bumsthe eternal flame that lightsa path into the future.
May after May my pines follow their candlesskyward, each headed straight for the zenith,and each meaning to get there if only there beyears enough before the last trumpet blows.
It is a very old pine who at last forgetswhich of his many candles is the mostimportant, and thus flattens his crownagainst the sky. You may forget, but nopine of your own planting will do so inyour lifetime.
If you are thriftily inclined, you will find pines congenial company, for,unlike the hand-to-mouth hardwoods, they never pay current bills out ofcurrent earnings; they live solely on their savings of the year before.
In fact every pine carries anopen bankbook, in which hiscash balance is recorded by30 June of each year
If, on that date, his completedcandle has developed aterminal cluster of ten ortwelve buds, it means that hehas salted away enough rainand sun for a two-foot or evena three-foot thrust skywardnext spring. If there are onlyfour or six buds, his thrust willbe a lesser one, but he willnevertheless wear thatpeculiar air that goes withsolvency.
Hard years, of course, come to pines as they do to men, and these arerecorded as shorter thrusts, i.e. shorter spaces between the successivewhorls of branches.
These spaces, then,are an autobiographythat he who walkswith trees may readat will. In order todate a hard yearcorrectly, you mustalways subtract onefrom the year oflesser growth.
Thus the 1937 growth was short in all pines; this records the universaldrouth of 1936. On the other hand the 1941 growth was long in all pines;perhaps they saw the shadow of things to come, & made a special effortto show the world that pines still know where they are going, even thoughmen do not.
When one pine shows a short year but his neighbors do not, you maysafely interpolate some purely local or individual adversity: a fire scar, agnawing meadow mouse, a windburn, or some local bottleneck in that darklaboratory we call the soil.
There is much small-talk and neighborhoodgossip among pines. By paying heed to thischatter, I learn what has transpired duringthe week when I am absent in town. Thus inMarch, when the deer frequently browsewhite pines, the height of the browsings tellsme how hungry they are.
A deer full of corn is too lazy to nipbranches more than four feetabove the ground; a really hungrydeer rises on his hind legs andnips as high as eight feet.
Thus I learn the gastronomic status of the deer withoutseeing them, and I learn, without visiting his field, whethermy neighbor has hauled in his cornshocks.
In May, when the new candle is tenderand brittle as an asparagus shoot, abird alighting on it will often break itoff. Every spring I find a few suchdecapitated trees, each with its wiltedcandle lying in the grass. It is easy toinfer what has happened, but in adecade of watching I have never onceseen a bird break a candle. It is anobject lesson: one need not doubt theunseen.
In June of each year a few white pines suddenly show wilted candles,which shortly thereafter turn brown & die.
A pine weevil has bored into the terminal bud cluster and deposited eggs;the grubs, when hatched, bore down along the pith and kill the shoot.
Such a leaderless pine is doomed to frustration, for the survivingbranches disagree among themselves who is to head the skyward march.They all do, and as a consequence the tree remains a bush.
It is a curious circumstance thatonly pines in full sunlight arebitten by weevils; shaded pinesare ignored. Such are the hiddenuses of adversity.
In October my pines tell me, by theirrubbed-off bark, when the bucks arebeginning to “feel their oats”.
A jackpine about eight feet high, andstanding alone, seems especially toincite in a buck the idea that theworld needs prodding.
Such a tree must perforceturn the other cheek also,and emerges much theworse for wear.
The only element of justice in suchcombats is that the more the tree ispunished, the more pitch the buckcarries away on his not-so-shinyantlers.
The chit-chat of the woods is sometimeshard to translate. Once in midwinter Ifound in the droppings under a grouseroost some half-digested structures thatI could not identify.
They resembled miniature corncobs abouthalf an inch long. I examined samples ofevery local grouse food I could think of, butwithout finding any clue to the origin of the„cobs. Finally I cut open the terminal bud of ajackpine, and in its core I found the answer.
The grouse had eaten the buds,digested the pitch, rubbed off thescales in his gizzard, and left thecob, which was, in effect, theforthcoming candle. One mightsay that this grouse had beenspeculating in jackpine “futures”
The three species of pine native to Wisconsin (white, red, and jack) differradically in their opinions about marriageable age.
The precocious jackpine sometimes blooms and bears cones a year or twoafter leaving the nursery, and a few of my I3-year-old jacks already boast ofgrandchildren.
but my whites have not yetbloomed; they adhere closely tothe Anglo- Saxon doctrine of free,white, and twenty-one.
Were it not for this wide diversity in social outlook, my red squirrelswould be much curtailed in their bill-of-fare. Each year in midsummer theystart tearing up jackpine cones for the seeds, and no Labor-Day picnicever scattered more hulls and rinds over the landscape than they do:
under each tree the remains of their annual feast lie in piles & heapsYet there are always cones to spare, as attested by their progenypopping up among the goldenrods.
Few people know that pines bearflowers, and most of those who do aretoo prosy to see in this festival ofbloom anything more than a routinebiological function. All disillusionedfolk should spend the second week inMay in a pine woods,
and such as wear glasses should take along an extrahandkerchief. The prodigality of pine pollen shouldconvince anyone of the reckless exuberance of the season,even when the song of the kinglet has failed to do so.
Young white pines usually thrive best in the absence of their parents.
I know of whole woodlots in which the younger generation, even whenprovided with a place in the sun, is dwarfed and spindled by its elders.
Again there are woodlots in which no such inhibition obtains. I wish Iknew whether such differences lie in tolerance in the young, in the old, orin the soil.
Pines, like people, are choosy about their associates & do not succeed insuppressing their likes & dislikes. Thus there is an affinity between whitepines & dewberries, between red pines & flowering spurge, between jackpines & sweet fern.
When I plant a white pine in a dewberry patch, I can safely predict thatwithin a year he will develop a husky cluster of buds, and that his newneedles will show that bluish bloom which bespeaks health & congenialcompany. He will outgrow & outbloom his fellows planted on the sameday, with the same care, in the same soil, but in the company of grass.
In October I like to walk among these blue plumes, risingstraight & stalwart from the red carpet of dewberry leaves. I wonderwhether they are aware of their state of well-being. I know only that I am.
Pines have earned the reputation of being „evergreen by the same devicethat governments use to achieve the appearance of perpetuity:overlapping terms of office. By taking on new needles on the new growthof each year, and discarding old needles at longer intervals, they have ledthe casual onlooker to believe that needles remain forever green.
Each species of pine has its ownconstitution, which prescribes a term ofoffice for needles appropriate to its wayof life. Thus the white pine retains itsneedles for a year & a half;
the red and jackpines fortwo years and a half.Incoming needles takeoffice in June, andoutgoing needles writefarewell addresses inOctober.
All write the same thing, in the same tawny yellow ink, which byNovember turns brown. Then the needles fall, and are filed in the duff toenrich the wisdom of the stand. It is this accumulated wisdom thathushes the footsteps of whoever walks under pines.
It is in midwinter that I sometimes glean from my pines something more important than woodlot politics, and the news of the wind and weather.This is especially likely to happen on some gloomy evening when thesnow has buried all irrelevant detail, and the hush of elemental sadnesslies heavy upon every living thing.
Never-the-less, my pines, each with his burden of snow, are standingramrod-straight, rank upon rank, and in the dusk beyond I sense thepresence of hundreds more. At such times I feel a curious transfusion ofcourage.
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, Artchive.com, and Labor Law Talk