A Sand County Almanac | Study Guide

Aldo Leopold

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A Sand County Almanac | Part 1, June : A Sand County Almanac | Summary



The Alder Fork—A Fishing Idyl

In this episode Leopold fishes for trout in a stream but has little luck. He relocates his fishing efforts to the Alder Fork—a part of the stream nearer the headwaters. While catching trout, Leopold sits on a rock and considers how much humans are like fish: "ready, nay eager, to seize upon whatever new thing some wind of circumstance shakes down upon the river of time!" He notes that this haste may sometimes have bad effects, but a life devoid of this eagerness would be very dull. Prudence may often be a virtue, but a life wholly prudent is boring. In fact, he remarks: "No prudent man is a fisherman."


Throughout his writing Leopold shows an appreciation for the wildness of nature and mourns human efforts to make nature safer or more comfortable. Often his message is that something important is lost when people successfully take all danger or wildness out of their environments. Yet in this description of a fishing trip, he celebrates a different human tendency—to act on impulse, as a fish does, or to take the less "prudent" but more exciting path. For Leopold fishing, even if some might find it slow, is a reminder that not all human activity is careful planning, sanitizing of natural areas, and taming the wildness of the world. For the reader, as for Leopold, this is a refreshing and joyful reminder.

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