“There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.”
The wild things in this opening line mean the creature, plants, spaces, and feature of the wild or wilderness, and not the more kinetic definition of it. Aldo Leopold was an early environmentalist, if we’re using the 20th century determination of the word, as opposed to a more general term like naturalist. He believed in the conservation, stewardship, and those other more classic understandings.
This book is a small set of essays that he published before he died in 1948, primarily acting as a kind of almanac for the year based in his observations on the things he witnessed from his land in Wisconsin. Later in the book, the essays become a little more topical as he discusses things like predator exclusion and organic farming (which he compares slightly ironically to a cult).
I am not one who derives a lot of pleasure from beautiful writing about nature, but I do like that spirit in others and I like nature a lot (within some limits — I hate camping, but I love hiking). It’s the more topical essays that I found more engaging as a consequence. That’s a personal preference and no bearing on the quality of the writing which is high. He predates figures like Rachel Carson and Wendell Berry and Barry Lopez, and the introduction by Barbara Kingsolver places him in the category of someone she mourned, even though he died before she was born. There’s a lot of middle of the country perspective happening here.