Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Payne Hollow - Harlan Hubbard

I finished reading Payne Hollow: Life on the Fringe of Society a few days ago. It's a Thoreau-esque autobiographical book about Harlan and Anna Hubbard's life on the shores of the Ohio river. The most interesting part of the book for me was Harlan's idealism, which I think I share with him in some small degree. Here is an example:
Our objections to an outboard motor are more subtle, and not generally understood by the practical minded. It makes a different craft out of the johnboat, a driven thing, quivering as if in pain. A motor is odorous and noisy. Even a small one spoils to some extent communion with the river. It interferes with your contemplation of sky and water and the distant view. It's noise discourages conversation, but this in some cases may be a desirable feature.
It's not evident in the passage quoted, but he is comparing the outboard to the use of oars as a means of crossing the river. I enjoyed hearing why they did this and that, both the philosophical reasons for their retreat to the land, and the practical means of day to day survival. I would recommend it as excellent reading to any who consider themselves idealists or naturalists. Unfortunately, it seems to be available only regionally. I happened to encounter it through a friend who has lived in Kentucky. I couldn't find it in any local libraries. Of course, the internet will bring it to your doorstep, though I'm not sure Harlan would approve.

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