I am in São Paulo again and I like it here. But I was rereading “A Sand County Almanac” and I felt a lot of nostalgia for Wisconsin. For those who don’t know it, “A Sand County Almanac” is one of the classics of conservation, written in 1948 by forester Aldo Leopold mostly about his farm in southern Wisconsin.
The part that drew my attention was an essay on bur oaks and oak openings. These are the places in the Wisconsin prairies where thick barked oaks content with grass in what Leopold characterizes as the front lines in the battle between grasslands and forests. The equilibrium was broken when settlers moved in and stopped the periodic burning that had favored grass. Many of the forest covered hills in southern Wisconsin were grasslands 200 years ago. The forests date from the 1850s when this part of Wisconsin was settled.
I have loved bur oaks since as long as I can recall. There are some really big ones in Humboldt Park near the lagoon that I remember from childhood. They were giants when I was young. They seemed about the same size when I last saw them and I expect they will be there still when I am composted. I miss the woods of home.