In the rush of modern life, we measure our lives by the clock, the calendar, the timetable. But there are older rhythms in nature: the call of chickadees before the first hint of spring, the golden face of a compass plant in July, the first snowfall. These signs mark the passage of time in a world that Aldo Leopold knew well and eloquently described.
With notebook and camera in hand, John and Beth Ross revisit the Aldo Leopold Memorial Reserve in south-central Wisconsin fifty years after Leopold’s death. Thanks to the efforts of Leopold, his family, and the Leopold Foundation, this once-ruined farmland is now largely restored to a natural state. The Rosses explore the terrain of this sandy land, encounter its natural citizens, and relate life here to its physical underpinnings. Following Leopold’s own practice of phenology, they note the seasonal changes: arrivals and departures of wild geese, the blossoming of the pasque flower at the edge of melting snow, the appearance of monarch butterflies on the milkweed. And further, they seek to find in this landscape an underlying morality, a communion of understanding, a sense of place in the cosmos.
Beautifully illustrated with color photographs, the book also includes notes on the behavior, habitat, and human interactions with ninety-four species of plants, birds, and other animals found in the reserve. An extensive glossary explains terms from geology, ecology, meteorology, and related life and earth sciences.
About the Author
John E. Ross is professor emeritus in agricultural journalism and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Beth Ross is a writer and photographer.