A Sand County Almanac


Aldo Leopold

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A river ecosystem in the Sierra Madre mountain range in Mexico.

Gavilan Quotes in A Sand County Almanac

The A Sand County Almanac quotes below are all either spoken by Gavilan or refer to Gavilan. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Time and History  Theme Icon
Part II: Chihuahua and Sonora Quotes

There are men charged with the duty of examining the construction of the plants, animals, and soils, which are the instruments of the great orchestra. These men are called professors. Each selects one instrument and calls his life taking it apart and describing its strings and sounding boards. This process of dismemberment is called research. The place for dismemberment is called a university.
A professor may pluck the strings of his own instrument, but never that of another, and if he listens for music he must never admit it to his fellows or to his students. For all are restrained by an ironbound taboo which decrees that the construction of instruments is the domain of science, while the detection of harmony is the domain of poets.

Professors serve science and science serves progress. It serves progress so well that many of the more intricate instruments are stepped upon and broken in the rush to spread progress to all backward lands. One by one the parts are thus stricken from the song of songs. If the professor is able to classify each instrument before it is broken, he is well content.

Science contributes moral as well as material blessings to the world. Its great moral contribution is objectivity, or the scientific point of view. This means doubting everything except facts; it means hewing to the facts, let the chips fall where they may. One of the facts hewn to by science is that every river needs more people, and all people need more inventions, and hence more science; the good life depends on the indefinite extension of this chain of logic. That the good life on any river may likewise depend on the perception of its music, and the preservation of some music to perceive, is a form of doubt not yet entertained by science.
Science has not yet arrived on the Gavilan, so the otter plays tag in its pools and riffles and chases the fat rainbows from under its mossy banks with never a thought for the flood that one day will scour the bank into the Pacific, or for the sportsman who will one day dispute his title to the trout. Like the scientist, he has no doubts about this own design for living. He assumes that for him the Gavilan will sing forever.

Related Characters: Aldo Leopold (speaker)
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:
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Gavilan Term Timeline in A Sand County Almanac

The timeline below shows where the term Gavilan appears in A Sand County Almanac. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part II: Chihuahua and Sonora
Ethics and Ecology Theme Icon
Reflecting on the Rio Gavilan, a river in the Sierra Madre mountain range, Leopold recalls the “pulsing harmony” of the... (full context)
Time and History  Theme Icon
The Value of the Land Theme Icon
Ethics and Ecology Theme Icon
...wonders if it is possible for humans and nature to live in harmony. In the Gavilan region, indigenous people lived in and with the wilderness for many years. He can see... (full context)