Author Topic: Aldo Leopold  (Read 2346 times)

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Offline rossfactor

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Aldo Leopold
« on: August 14, 2015, 09:18:48 am »
Some of you are probably familiar with this letter, but its worth posting for those who haven't read it. Aldo Leopold once made a Yew bow and sent it to a friend.  A friend forwarded (the letter) to me some years ago and I've kept it, and return read it pretty often.  The second paragraph of this letter is pure poetry from a man who was both the father of modern wildlife conservation, and clearly someone who understood human beings.  “What lies inside is the everlasting question.” Indeed.

I've pasted the letter below. (It deals to some extent with the making of bows so I posted it here... but mods feel free to move if this belongs in "Around the Campfire")

Gabe

Dear Herbert:

    “I am sending you by express a yew bow, which I have been making for you this winter.  I have enjoyed it because it was a way to express my affection and regard for one of the few who understands what yew bows—and quail and mallards and wind and sunsets—are all about.” 

    “I cannot assure you that it is a good piece of wood.  Staves, like friends, have to be lived with in many woods and weathers before one knows their quality.  The fact that the stave is yew, has a specific gravity of .432, came from Roseburg, Oregon, and has been waiting for a job since 1930, is no more a test of how it will soar an arrow than the fact that a man is a naturalist, weighs 160, and has had time enough to season, is a test of the zest or nicety with which he will expend his powers in the good cause.  All I can say of this bow is that its exterior “education” embodies whatever craft and wisdom is mine to impart.  What lies inside is the everlasting question.” 

    “I have tried to build into this bow the main recent improvements in bow-design, but since some of them are not visible, they will bear mention.  The square cross section and waisted handle are of course visible innovations, but probably less important than the new location of the geographic centre.  In former days this was pub close under the arrow plate, but in this bow it lies as near the centre of the handle as is possible without overworking the lower limb.” 

    “The horns whence came these nocks were pulled off the skeleton of an old cow on the Santa Rita ranges” . . . “The slight flaws at the base of the upper nock are the measure of the seasons which bleached her bones before (she) was found.”  “I doubt not that many a black vulture perched on her skull meanwhile, and many a quail and roadrunner, coyote and jackrabbit played their little games of life and death in the hackberry bush hard by her withering hide.  Did that stodgy old cow, whilst living, know, or get any satisfaction from knowing, that within her growing horns she was converting her daily provender of desert grama and sun-dried mesquite into an enduring poem of amber light?”  “Does a yew tree glory in fashioning from mere soil and sunlight a wood whose shavings curl in ecstasy at the prospect of becoming a bow?”  “These are questions meant for an archer to ask, but for no man to answer.”

     “One cannot fashion a stave without indulging in fond hopes of its future.”. . . “On many a thirsty noon I hope you lean it against a mossy back by cool springs.  In fall I hope its shafts will sing in sunny glades where turkeys dwell, and that one day some wily bucks will live just long enough to startle at the twang of its speeding string.”

   “And lastly if the bow breaks, with or without provocation, pray waste no words or thoughts in vain regret.  There are more staves in the woods than have yet sped an arrow, all longing to realize their manifest destiny.  Just blow three blasts on your horn and I will make you another.”

Yours as ever,
Aldo Leopold

« Last Edit: August 14, 2015, 09:23:51 am by rossfactor »
Humboldt County CA.

Offline Sidmand

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Re: Aldo Leopold
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2015, 09:50:00 am »
That's beautiful.  Thank you very much for that gift.
"Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing." --> Aristotle

blackhawk

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Re: Aldo Leopold
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2015, 09:59:00 am »
Awesome!! And priceless!!

Some of my fav lines

"Staves, like friends, have to be lived with in many woods and weathers before one knows their quality."

"Does a yew tree glory in fashioning from mere soil and sunlight a wood whose shavings curl in ecstasy at the prospect of becoming a bow?”  “These are questions meant for an archer to ask, but for no man to answer.”


 “And lastly if the bow breaks, with or without provocation, pray waste no words or thoughts in vain regret.  There are more staves in the woods than have yet sped an arrow, all longing to realize their manifest destiny. "

Thanks Gabe. ;)

Offline Onebowonder

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Re: Aldo Leopold
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2015, 10:32:50 am »
There is a certain sense of the old Zen Masters in the way he speaks/writes.  Thanx so much for sharing this...

OneBow

Offline wapiti1997

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Re: Aldo Leopold
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2015, 11:00:03 am »
That's awesome! Being a wildlife biologist the writings of Leopold are familiar, "Sand County Almanac" is a great read if anyone wanted further read his stuff.

I did not know he was a bowyer, or forgot that since I had no inclination to do so in college.

Thanks again for sharing!

Offline Del the cat

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Re: Aldo Leopold
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2015, 11:13:34 am »
Oh yes, those Yew trees know, but they like to tease and hide their best staves from prying eyes :laugh:
Del
Health warning, these posts may contain traces of nut.

Offline helmet

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Re: Aldo Leopold
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2015, 11:38:56 am »
That is beautiful like most of his insightful and aware writings. I really like " these are questions meant for an archer to asks, but for no man  to answer. Thanks for sharing.

Offline paco664

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Re: Aldo Leopold
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2015, 01:16:00 pm »
cuz had a way with words...
I'm too drunk to taste this chicken"~Col.H.Sanders

Offline rossfactor

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Re: Aldo Leopold
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2015, 03:28:13 pm »
Yeah... Leopold was a prolific writer, conservationist, teacher, forester, and also unknown to many, a bow hunter. Someone who truly respected the web of life... and knew how to translate it's beauty into words. He ha d a lot to do with stopping the total extermination of large predators (in New Mexico and beyond through his writing).

There's photo's online of his 1937–1938 Gavilan  trip with hos handmade bow and arrows.

We in the west owe a lot to Leopold.

Gabe
Humboldt County CA.

Offline bubbles

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Re: Aldo Leopold
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2015, 04:17:14 pm »
That's a great letter.  I wish my friends wrote like that to me.  Forget about all this LOL crap.  :)

Offline GB

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Re: Aldo Leopold
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2015, 04:30:18 pm »
Sounds like he knew his way around a bow, which is another thing I didn't know about him.  Beautifully written and inspiring to read.
I'm really interested in seeing a picture of his bow, now.
Yeah, I remember when we had a President who didn't wear a tinfoil hat.

mikekeswick

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Re: Aldo Leopold
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2015, 12:32:42 am »
That's a great letter.  I wish my friends wrote like that to me.  Forget about all this LOL crap.  :)

Too true, too true  :)
Rossfactor - That was beautifully written. A real flow to the words. Thank you very much for sharing - it's going on my workshop wall.

Offline PEARL DRUMS/PEARLY/PD/DRUMS

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Re: Aldo Leopold
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2015, 06:57:26 am »
Very cool, thanks Gabe.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.

Offline Badger

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Re: Aldo Leopold
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2015, 07:06:19 am »
   The writing was beautiful, it struck me as funny if we were to write a letter like that today people would assume they were a gay couple. In those days thats just how folks expressed themselves.

Offline hammerstone

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Re: Aldo Leopold
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2015, 08:40:44 pm »
coolest sh.. I read in a very long time,