From Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac,
“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery store, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.
“To avoid the first danger, one should plant a garden, preferably where there is no grocer to confuse the issue.
“To avoid the second, he should lay a split of good oak on the andirons, preferably where there is no furnace, and let it warm his shins while a February blizzard tosses the trees outside. If one has cut, split, hauled, and piled his own good oak, and let his mind work the while, he will remember much about where the heat comes from, and with a wealth of detail denied to those who spend the week end in town astride a radiator.”
Leopold then takes the reader through a history lesson as he describes cutting his “good oak.” Reading it last week while we gathered round the woodstove and watched the February weather, the kids and I decided that there is “nothing new under the sun,” as Solomon expounded–even our “extreme and crazy” weather. We’ve enjoyed reading old books that describe farming–the Little House books, The Last Farmer by Howard Kohn, and Eighty Acres by Ronald Jager, to name a few. We learn about our farming, our selves, and about life (there is nothing new, really) in these stories. We feel for folks who don’t have the connection to history that we have, living on a small farm like ours. It’s a gift, to be sure.
And we are keenly aware that breakfast does not come from the grocery.