A Sand County Almanac | Study Guide

Aldo Leopold

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

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Summary

The Choral Copse

By September most birds sing less at daybreak, but the quail often lend their "contralto voices" to the opening song of the day. The quail hide in the grass and, if approached, go silent. Leopold takes particular delight in the "music of elusive birds." In addition, the quail are less predictable than other birds, who sing each spring morning or evening without fail. Sometimes the quail sing, and other mornings they do not. On one fall morning the chorus of quail sings loudly nearby, and Leopold receives this with gratitude, remarking on its effects: "The blue autumnal needles on those pines became thenceforth bluer, and the red carpet of dewberry under those pines became even redder."

Analysis

This sketch expresses the beauty of nature and the effect of this beauty on those humans who but pay attention. In it Leopold compares the quail that sing at daybreak to a human choir, using this personification to enhance his description. Leopold is the audience that listens to their choral singing. As the appreciative beneficiary of their musical art Leopold finds that his entire sensory experience is enhanced by their song, as if it not only added a layer of beauty to the environment but also enriched the other aspects of the environment, making the colors more vivid.

Along with his overall appreciation of the beauty of nature, he also loves its unpredictability. He admires that he can't be sure when the quail will sing and when they won't. This unpredictability is a sign of the mystery of nature that Leopold often comes back to. It holds unanswered questions, but the fact that there is something unknowable means the world is bigger than his mind can encompass. Leopold finds this notion delightful.

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