Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I could do this! The Leopold Bench
Aldo Leopold's Sand Country Almanac is, along with Thoreau's Walden, a classic in American ecological literature. In it, Leopold (1887-1948) --who founded the field of Wildlife Ecology, was instrumental in establishing the first official "wilderness area" in the United States (the Gila National Forest), and helped to create The Wilderness Society--recorded the passage of seasons as he and his family renovated what was a worn out, depleted farmstead on sandy river soil. It is now considered one of the earliest examples of an ecological restoration.
On weekends away from Aldo's post at the University of Wisconsin, they planted native trees and flowers and noted the doings of animals and birds and slowly remodeled the chicken coop (which was filled with frozen manure when they first got the farm) for human habitation; it is now the only chicken coop on the National Register of Historic Places. It is still called simply 'the Shack', and the site is preserved by the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Tours are available May through October.
(photo from the digitized collection of Leopold's papers at the University of Wisconsin)
That's the bench on the right. They're still common in America at church camps and summer cabins, and only require a few simple cuts. I'm no carpenter, but I think even I could do this. Recommendations gleaned from the internet are to alter the plan slightly by using a four foot board for the seat (more room for a companion!) and utilizing a wider board for the seat. We're bigger people, on average, than in the thirties.
Simple instructions available at the US government's EPA site. In the spirit of Leopold, make it from recycled lumber if you can.