I had not heard of Harlan or Anna Hubbard and their journey drifting down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers when our friend David loaned me Shantyboat. He's from Kentucky where the story of Shantyboat is more well known. My attention was hooked after just a few minutes of looking at Harlan Hubbard's hand drawn map at the beginning of the book that details six years aboard their homemade shantyboat.
The Hubbard's built their boat just east of Cincinnati on the Ohio River. Harlan finishes the making the boat in 1944. The river rises floating the shantyboat off the land. They moar their boat there at Brent, Ohio, before casting off down the river two years later, drifting with the current of the river during winter and harboring each spring and summer to grow food, can and restock their provisions for the following winter of drifting.
Their story captivated my imagination and shared the rewards of a simple life unfolding via an extraordinary slow journey of mindfulness. Theirs is a journey of drifting but it is not aimless or lacking intention. And while they are adrift, they nurture a rich social life building community with others who live with and near the river.
I gifted the book to Eric for his birthday and to my father for Christmas. Shantyboat is a wonderful read.