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Nature Writing - Essay Example

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Name Class Date A Sand County Almanac: The Humility of Trying to Capture the Essence of Nature A narrative that explores the beauty and elegance of the natural world is never complete. Aldo Leopold takes on the challenge of creating descriptions of nature in his work A Sand County Almanac which is especially well done in his chapter, “Marshland Elegy”…
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Nature Writing
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Download file to see previous pages The following paper will examine the descriptions of nature in Aldo Leopold’s work as they are deeply moving and spiritually satisfying, but how it is his humility about the inability of language to capture the true depth of the beauty of nature that provides the best reasons for conserving the natural world. The book begins by saying “There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot” (Leopold 21). Written by Leopold on March 4, 1948, this statement puts in two sentences the nature of his existence within this world and how he was challenged by it. His essays develop a strong argument for conservationism, providing the roots through which the conservation movement was able to take hold. A seminal work on providing context for the concepts that supported the need for conserving the natural world, the descriptions and challenges presented are engaging no matter what level of kinship one feels for nature. There is a passage in his March section which describes the activities of woodcocks in April and May of each year. Leopold missed the ‘dance’ that he describes for the first two years that they lived in the area. After those first two years, however, he describes a ritual of the evening that would begin exactly one minute later each night for those two months. He writes “It is unfortunate, perhaps, that no matter how intently one studies the hundred little dramas of the woods and meadows, one can never learn all the salient facts about any one of them” (Leopold 41). The use of the concept of data as a way to engage the reader provides human context for the understanding of nature that he creates. When Leopold discusses the woodcocks, he frames their rituals in terms of human understandings. He puts them on a clock that shifts by one minute later every day. He places them in the calendar for performing this ritual through April and May of each year. He creates data that is placed into context in terms that human beings understand. However, the woodcocks likely have no understanding of months or minutes. They follow the cues that nature has provided. It is through modeling that Leopold is able to provide the reader a way in which to relate the natural world to the human world. In his August essay, “The Green Pasture”, Leopold compares the artist to the work of the river as it carves out color and texture onto the sandbar (233). Unlike the human artist whose work lasts for generations to observe, the river paints its work so that only a moment of it exists and in that moment the human memory is all that will preserve it. He uses the model of the painter as the structure in which he interprets the work of the river. As he uses the metaphor of the painter in order to describe what he has observed about the changing imagery. Even in the beauty of the essay as it defines the way in which the river impacts on its environment, he has only created an illusion about its nature. In his essay “Marshland Elegy”, Leopold seemed to experience the way in which the ancient nature of the land was connected to the present in a way that was not linear. The past as it is reflected in the lives of the cranes means that the human interpretation of time may not be as accurate as that of nature. The cyclical nature of life and death as it continues to nourish and feed an ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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