So we started this today as a family read-aloud. The goal is a chapter (corresponding to a month) a day for the next 12 days.
January thoughts. I liked the narcissistic representation of the animals. Each is incapable of noticing the others; I found the economic description of the meadow mouse's tunnels under the snow and the grass buried in ground especially entertaining.
February is all about the felling of an oak tree. I have a burr oak in my backyard that is 200+ years old; as Leopold travels back in time (although I must say that too many of his years were simply full of fires or drought...couldn't he find something unique about each year?) through the sawing of the tree, I was thinking about how different in scale time is for a tree than a human.
March tells the story of the geese. I enjoyed Leopold's comment about his learned friend who had never noticed the migration of the geese. I am not quite that bad, but it is a good reminder to pay attention to the passing season. We also had a lovely discussion between the four of us about the benefits of being a muskrat. Is it that they eat geese or that they would be able to move about among the geese without disturbing their pattern of behavior?
April has a great description of the love dance of the woodcock (as a nightly entertainment) and also a short essay on the veteran bur oaks (of which mine is one).
The nesting plovers in May give a new definition to field ownership. Although, I'm not sure I've ever seen a plover; maybe the forest conservationists were not just in time as Leopold asserts.
June is the story of the non-prudent fisherman. The kids were interested in the fact that Leopold fishes by hand (not with a rod and reel). I thought about how different their attitudes are when at the lake; if they catch fish (some years they do) then all is well, but the years that they do not catch fish are boring and treacherous for all.
July was wonderful on two fronts. First, we have a compass plant in our front yard (planted by my father in law who is a lover of all things prairie) and second, my dog(s) also does not believe in the tenure rights of birds.
August was about the river painting a picture, although I wasn't convinced it was the river. Yes, the water level is determined by the river and it is a good focal point but most of the color is in the flowers and the grass, neither of which are fed by the river.