a DIY naturalist
& the Aldo Leopold Bench.
To spy a Leopold bench in someone's yard is to know something about the family who there resides. Even if you haven't read Leopold's opening lines, "There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot," from A Sand County Almanac, you will appreciate this easy-to-build bench. If left untreated, this stable bench develops a characteristic gray patina, however, putting some preservative where bench meets ground will prolong its life. Its form, resting alone under a tree or in congregation around a firepit, reminds us of Leopold's thoughtfulness:
"When some remote ancestor of ours invented the shovel, he became a giver: He could plant a tree. And when the axe was invented, he became a taker: He could chop it down. Whoever owns land has thus assumed, whether he knows it or not, the divine functions of creating and destroying plants."
"The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, 'What good is it?' If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering."
Materials: One 2x6x33", one 2x10x30", one 2x8x10', six 3/8"x 31/2" carriage bolts with washer and nut, twelve 3/8" x 31/2" #12 or #14 flathead wood screws. Use Douglas Fir for your Leopold bench, if you can, and customize its size to suit you. The materials listed will make a 33" bench, but you may choose to build out to 48".