Read enough American nature writing, and sooner or later, you’ll bump into the late Aldo Leopold, whose “A Sand Country Almanac” has been hailed as a classic since its first publication in 1949.
Sadly, Leopold didn’t live to see the warm reception his work has inspired. He died while helping a neighbor put out a grass fire in 1948, just days after learning that a publisher had accepted “A Sand County Almanac” for publication.
A lovely new film about Leopold’s life, “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time,” will be shown on Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Dalton Woods Auditorium in the Energy, Coast, & Environment Building on the LSU campus, which is on Nicholson Drive Extension, next to Campus Federal Credit Union. The screening is free and open to the public.
Screening a film at 5 p.m. on a weekday — rush-hour in Baton Rouge — isn’t the best way to promote attendance. Even so, we’re glad that the LSU School of the Coast and Environment is sponsoring a showing of “Green Fire,” which has been playing in a number of cities across America.
Born in 1887, Leopold worked for the U.S. Forest Service and lived in a few places, but his heart belonged to Wisconsin, where he joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin and bought a little weekend place in a stretch of woods in rural Sand County.
He began writing about what he saw there, reflecting on the connections between ecology and modern development. Leopold’s wise observations about Sand County inspired people to think about their own natural landscapes and what needed to be done to preserve them.
His reflections resonate in many places across the world, including Louisiana, where we continue to try to reconcile the ideals of our “sportsman’s paradise” with the realities of industrial and suburban development.
“There are those who can live without wild things and those who cannot,” Leopold told his readers. His book, he said, was a record of one of those who could not.
We hope the local screening of “Green Fire” inspires renewed interest in Leopold’s work. More than six decades after his passing, his message remains as urgent as ever.