January 29, 2023

“When enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish.”

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Those words are from Aldo Leopold. The entire quote goes like this: “All conservation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish.”

I am not very much of an Aldo Leopold fan, nor am I much of an idealist as are most fans of Leopold, Muir, Roosevelt and others.

When hunting in the woods, as I did this past November, early on, even though much of the terrain I cover is the same terrain I and others like me and those before have tread, I sometimes desire to escape to a fool’s paradise, imagining I am some place no man has ever been.

One day I reached a place. It was ever quiet. The sky was deep blue, a light breeze and seasonably warm was the air. Nature’s breath smelled earthen, full of rot at times blended with brief whiffs of sweet fern. In the distance I distinguished the bubbling and crackling of a brook. Dead leaves would drift lazily to the ground as the gentle and yet invisible zephyrs took control, seemingly to steer the leaves where God could best make use of them.

I must be there. I must have reached that happiness that exudes when a man believes he has stood where no man has mounted before.

Okay! This is all made up stuff. None of this really happened but I was surprised when I reached a place where I knew few, if any, hunters probably made their way only to discover perched on a small rock just to my side was an apple core. Judging from the picture, it hadn’t been there too long as some of the apple still appeared white and the elements hadn’t taken the fruit from its lofty perch.

Sometimes we can be just as surprised with what we see as what we don’t.

Photo by Tom Remington