The Development of My Land Ethic


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I do not imply that this philosophy of land was always clear to me. It is rather the end result of a life journey”

-Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

 

As the semester and the Travis County Almanac blog is coming to end. I can’t help but to be nostalgic about the adventures I have had because of this blog and how far I have come in my relationship to the land.

Growing up, I always appreciated the little things, bugs especially. I spent most of my days outside, under the Sun’s rays. I was one for imagination, always pretending to be a flying among the butterflies. I was always joyous of what the Earth gave me; yet, I never realized that the relationship between me and the Earth was two-sided.

When I grew older, I didn’t always appreciate the little things, like bugs, especially. I was pleased to see the Sun’s rays, but it didn’t cause me to spend my days underneath them. I was always one for imagination, but I was never again a butterfly. I was always joyous of what my parents’ gave me and had seemed to have forgotten that a relationship between me and Earth had ever even existed.

I didn’t begin to remember my relationship with the Earth until I went on my first cross-country bicycling trip in 2011. When I climbed my first mountain (an Appalachian mountain),  when I felt the strength of the mountain, when I drank the water I so desperately needed, when I could hear the sing-songs of the birds, when I felt the drop in temperature, when the air became thinner, when I reached the top, when I could see the Earth below me, and when I flew so quickly down the mountain, I remembered.

Now, I am 21 and the relationship I have with Earth lets me appreciate the small things, like bugs, especially. I spend most of my days outside, under the Sun’s rays. And I am still one for imagination, I just tend to imagine the Earth without the sound of car horns, or something like that. I am always joyous of what the Earth gives me; but, now I know I cannot always take but have to give as well.

The Earth and I will never have a mutually-dependent relationship, if we did I’d be something crazy like water, or carbon, or gravity, or the Sun, something abiotic I suppose.

Being able to go out every week into nature, and actually into nature, without the distant sound of car horns honking, was the best homework I could ever imagine.

Recalling one of the days I had at the greenbelt this past semester; a day when Iggy and I invited my visiting cousin, Hannah and her dog, Suki, from Los Angeles. She looked over at me as Suki took her first step into the creek’s water. What Hannah told me, was disheartening. As she turned to me she said she couldn’t recall a time when Suki had ever played in water, especially in a natural creek.

As many know California, especially the Los Angeles area, has been in a devastating drought. Not only is California in a drought, but in places like Los Angeles, where the city seems endless, its difficult and a time consuming effort, to reach nature.

As I thought more and more about what Hannah had said, I started to question on whether there was people living in Los Angeles, or any other ceaselessly urbanized area, that had never been in nature. I assume there must be.

Remembering Suki taking her first dip into the creek’s water, it saddened me to think that there are some lives living on Earth that have never, and possibly will never, know the feeling of being submerged in the Earth’s water. Not in a manmade pool or anything like that, but in all natural Earth-sanctioned water.

This thought reminded me of a quote of Aldo Leopold’s,

I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness.”

As astonishing as it is sad to think that some may already live in a world without wilderness. I wondered if they constantly feel as if they’re missing something.

I am extremely appreciative of the city and the county I live in. I believe it to be one of the best areas of land in the world. The rolling hills covered in trees, the Colorado river flowing through, and the great limestone that lays all around us is truly a blessing.

I always take it personally when I see an emptied can of beer on the bed of the creek, or a cigarette butt left behind on the trail. Not everyone sees Earth as part of themselves like they should. Many just see the land as rightfully theirs to do what they wish and take what they want.

The Earth is part of us, just as a lung is part of us. But even saying that, their are many that knowingly destroy their bodies, so why would they think the Earth should be pardoned?

One that should think this, should picture their grandkids, or their sister’s grandkids, or their brother’s grandkids, and picture them without clean air to revive them, without tress to shade them, or without rain to nourish them. Then they should think about leaving that can of  beer on the creek or that cigarette butt on the trail.

 

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“The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land… In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.” -Aldo Leopold, A sand County Almanac

The purpose of this blog was to develop a land ethic. I have learned, through my experience this semester and my experience with nature throughout my few years, to never want to conqueror the land, but to be an honoring member.

 

Natalie

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