Do you know who’s ridiculously cool? Fran freakin’ Hamerstrom, first lady in the Wisconsin DNR, only lady to study under Aldo Leopold, “father of ecology” and general goddess of raptors and prairie chickens
The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, “What good is it?” If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.
One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.
The song of the waters is audible to every ear, but there is other music in these hills, by no means audible to all. To hear even a few notes of it, you must first live here for a long time, and then you must know the speech of hills and rivers. Then of a still night, when the campfire is low and the Pleiades have climbed over the rimrocks, sit quietly and listen for a wolf to howl, and think hard of everything you have seen and tried to understand. Then you may hear it - a vast pulsing harmony - its score inscribed on a thousand hills, its notes the lives and deaths of plants and animals, its rhythms spanning the seconds and the centuries.
Today is the birthday of Aldo Leopold, someone near and dear to us here at the Archives and to Wisconsinites all over. We’re sharing one of our favorite pieces of correspondence–a letter of appreciation to Arthur Sisk, Gila Wilderness, New Mexico, November 30, 1927 (with inset photo). The whole, short expression is charming but our favorite part–
…I am loosing this arrow southwestward with my sentiments attached, hoping that it may fly true and hit home.
We end, I think, at what might be called the standard paradox of the twentieth century: our tools are better than we are, and grow better faster than we do. They suffice to crack the atom, to command the tides. But they do not suffice for the oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.
Aldo Leopold, Engineering and Conservation (1938)