Tuesday, 27 May 2008


Just finished this wonderful book - Shantyboat - a river way of life, by Harlan Hubbard. It's taken me a couple of years to actually get hold of the book and read it, but well worth the wait. A truly inspiring book for anyone who hankers after a slower pace of life and simpler living. I was unsure about the fact it was based around the rivers, as I (thought.........) had little interest in this, but something stirred my interest this time, and I became fascinated by the terminology, following the currents, the imagery of the differing banks as they drift by,and very importatnly, the people they meet and encounter along the way. Written in the 1940s, his and his wife's journey begins at Brent in 1944 and ends in New Orleans in 1650, a distance of 1385 miles, drifting on a handmade shanty boat. His style of writing brings so much vividly to life, and I found the domestic details fascinating - they took a hive of bees on their boat with them. Beautifully illustrated with woodblocks by Harlan himself, inspiring me to get out my lino cutting again and do some more.

"On modern living there is such protection from the elements that those who live in cities pay little regard to the weather unless some extreme condition causes them discomfort or onconvenience" - how true, and sadly, this applies to folks who live in the country too. We have lost touch with the most primitive of forces out there. I know a fair bit about our weather, but would like to know a lot more, and actually get out in it properly from time to time, albeit it with the greatest respect for mother nature.

"..... found our shantyboat such a cheerful and snug place, and our enjoyment of living there so keen, that we felt we were celebrating a continual holiday, one about which the rest of the world did not know." - that is livng, is it not? Real living, taking time to enjoy the moment, be at peace and ease with yourself and the world around you.

On gardening: "It is an unrivaled adventure, putting seeds in the ground, in this case intensified by the strangeness of our situation and our voyage to these new shores"

"I do not mean that our way was better, and do not recommend it. To most, it would mean deprivation. To us it had an honorable simplicity and independence. We were living as we desired, and put out less than most, to get what we wanted"

1 comment:

richard said...

Is this shantylife no alternative for the foreclosureproblems and the housing bubble?