Anna reading at Payne Hollow
An undeniable love for the river drew us away from town and down to the shore; the boat we built there was to carry us into a new existence. This regeneration gave a direction to our lives that Anna had never before contemplated; for me it was the fulfillment of old longings; yet we were both led on by a common desire to get down to earth and to express ourselves by creating a setting for our life together which would be in harmony with the landscape.
We catch fish for our own eating, get all our living as direct means as possible, that we may be self-sufficient and avoid contributing to the ruthless mechanical system that is destroying the earth.
In this endeavor, no sacrifice is called for, no struggle or effort of will. Such a way is natural. Rather than hardship, it brings peace and inner rewards beyond measure.
Thus shantyboating has become, for us, a point of view, a way of looking at the world and at life. You take neither of them too seriously, nor do you try to understand their complexities. Who can? It is an obviously illogical philosophy, in which the individual is supreme. The claims made on him by his inner beliefs are above the demands of society. He is not without compassion, but his love is expended on those of his fellow men he is in contact with. With no schemes for universal betterment, he tends his own garden.
Is this selfish? No. The selfish man wants more than his share, a higher seat at the table than he is entitled to. One strong enough to stand by himself is not attracted by the prizes which the world offers. He has his own values, receives other rewards, for which there is no competition.
Instead of trying to make everyone alike, the state and society should encourage individualism. Individuals will never be too numerous; in fact, they are becoming harder to find. The river shantyboater has passed away, along with the old river; yet a few renegades will always be found, out in the brush somewhere, or on a forgotten bit of river shore, content with an environment the proud would scorn. The shantyboat strain is not likely to be cultivated out of existence, any more than the earth will ever be completely subdued.
~ Harlan Hubbard
excerpts from Payne Hollow: Life on the Fringe of Society
a shantyboat in winter - by Harlan Hubbard