The practices we now call conservation are, to a large extent, local alleviations of biotic pain. They are necessary, but they must not be confused with cures. The art of land doctoring is being practiced with vigor, but the science of land health is yet to be born.
To work the land is to change the land, to shape it to benefit one species over another, and thus necessarily to tame what is wild. Our task should be to deliver our blows gently.
I hold one share in the corporate earth and am uneasy about the management.
Americans are nature-lovers: but they only admit of nature proofed and corrected by man.
Is not Nature modified by art in many things? . . . And is it not happy for human society that it is so? Would you like to see your husband let his beard grow, until he would be obliged to put the end of it in his pocket, because this beard is the gift of Nature?
To have risked so much in our efforts to mold nature to our satisfaction and yet to have failed in achieving our goal would indeed be the final irony. Yet this, it seems, is our situation.
Humans will be like decayed gentry. We’ll have the glorious mansion called the past that is falling into disrepair. We’ll have a piece of land that we didn’t look after very well called the planet. And we’ll have some nice clothes and a lot of stories.
There is little chance that North America will develop a functional land ethic until it finds a way to overcome its irrational addiction to profit.
Grab this land! Take it, hold it, my brothers, make it, my brothers, shake it, squeeze it, turn it, twist it, beat it, kick it, kiss it, whip it, stomp it, dig it, plow it, seed it, reap it, rent it, buy it, sell it, own it, build it, multiply it, and pass it on — can you hear me? Pass it on!
You must bind up any wounds you give the Earth and you must feed her to replace what you take from her. Every gift she gives, every tree, every stalk of grain, costs her. Only if you repay your debts will she continue to provide.
Man masters nature not by force but by understanding.
If we apply our minds directly and competently to the needs of the earth, then we will have begun to make fundamental and necessary changes in our minds. We will begin to understand and to mistrust and to change our wasteful economy, which markets not just the produce of the earth, but also the earth’s ability to produce. We will see that beauty and utility are alike dependent upon the health of the world.
Restoring land without restoring relationship is an empty exercise. It is relationship that will endure and relationship that will sustain the restored land. . . . It is medicine for the earth.
Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth, I believe. He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience, to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder about it, to dwell upon it. He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at every season and listens to the sounds that are made upon it.
Strange to say, conservation of land and conservation of people frequently go hand in hand.
It is possible to live wisely on the land, and to live well. And in behaving respectfully toward all that the land contains, it is possible to imagine a stifling ignorance falling away from us.