Mother declared... “Now let’s make supper!” …Suspended over fire by sturdy, wrought iron hangers, hearty stews bubbled in open pots while Mother’s cornbread baked in Dutch ovens.*
As they restored their beloved Shack and its surrounding lands, the Leopolds developed many traditions: the children befriended animals, went on walks with their father, Aldo, who tested them on their plant identification skills, and learned Spanish folk songs from their mother, Estella, around the fire. Now, sitting near the Shack, one can feel the energy and love the family put into the home that has come to be known as the birthplace of conservation ethics.
What the Leopolds held close in the 1930s and 40s, we now return to in 2020: the importance of family, chances to return to nature, and opportunities to connect with those dearest to us. The Leopolds ended their days gathered around a fire at the Shack perfecting Dutch oven recipes and sharing stories of the day. Now, we invite you to join us in celebrating the Leopolds and their values by participating in the #LeopoldCornbreadChallenge as we enter the final weeks of the year. Gather with those you love to enjoy this beloved Leopold recipe – “Mother’s Cornbread” – and enjoy with modern fixings, or with a hearty, bubbling stew.
Once you make your cornbread, snap a picture and share with us! Submit by posting on Facebook with #LeopoldCornbreadChallenge, sending via a direct message on Facebook, or emailing your picture to firstname.lastname@example.org. Whichever way you choose to submit, do so by December 31, 2020! We will be randomly selecting three participants to receive a copy of A Sand County Almanac signed by Estella Leopold, Jr., along with a Dutch oven to continue recreating recipes beloved across decades!
Often the Leopolds settled in for a good sing after supper. Mother had taught them the old Spanish family songs from New Mexico, where her family first settled during the mid-1600s.*
As you whip up a batch of “Mother’s Cornbread,” we hope you are transported to Wisconsin’s “sand county,” where you can still hear echoes of Leopold siblings Starker, Luna, Nina, Carl, & Estella playing guitar around Shack campfires. A place where you can still stand among the same pines so tenderly planted by generations of Leopolds. A place where we hope you can return in the new year!
And, while you’re thinking about all the connections we share with the Leopolds, the earth, and one another, we urge you to renew your own commitment to conservation, education, and all things natural, wild, and free. Celebrate this season by planting your personal investment, protecting not only conservation’s past but reaping the rewards of propelling the Leopold legacy into the future.
Whether you choose to show your support for Leopold by cooking up Mother’s cornbread or donating (or both!), we hope that you end the year feeling grounded in each other’s support – just as we feel grounded in your support here at the Foundation. Here’s to 2021!
*Quotes excerpted from Nancy Nye Hunt’s book Aldo Leopold’s Shack: Nina’s Story