leopold proposed a bunch of questions of which ‘any amateur naturalist … should be able to speculate intelligently … and have a lot of fun doing it.’

he goes on: ‘you will see, too, that modern natural history deals only incidentally with the identity of plants and animals…. it deals principally with their relations to each other, their relation to the soil and water in which they grew, and their relations to the human beings who sing about “my country” but see little or nothing of its inner workings. this science of relationships is called ecology.’ (A Sand County Almanac, 209-210)

in fact, the whole universe and all its components, from quarks to galactic strings, may be less about the components and more about the relationships, because everything’s connected and the universe is unified. humans, especially those in cities and suburbs, away from fields and ditches and ponds and marshes, tend to forget that. we treat the earth poorly and as a result we’re hurting it, and everything on it and in it, including eventually ourselves.

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