Payne Hollow Journal

Payne Hollow Journal

Harlan Hubbard


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Harlan Hubbard was Kentucky's Thoreau, and his journals are intimate records of a life lived in harmony with nature. For more than fifty years the artist, writer, and homesteader described daily activities and recorded keen observations as he sought to live simply and authentically. The third and climactic volume of his journals, Payne Hollow Journal, contains entries from the years he and his wife, Anna, lived at their Payne Hollow home along the Ohio River's Kentucky shore.

There they mastered the arts of country life, building their own stone and timber house in 1952 and raising their own food. To live with nature was not a novel experience for the couple; earlier they had floated down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans on their homemade shantyboat. Hubbard described this journey in Shantyboat Journal, the basis for his Shantyboat and Shantyboat on the Bayous.

By turns poetic and practical, Payne Hollow Journal celebrates nature's intense beauty and sometimes harsh realities as perhaps only an artist can see them. Here Hubbard reveals how dedication to work that provides sustenance—gardening, wood chopping, fishing, foraging, and raising goats-can also be fulfilling. Don Wallis's arrangement of the Payne Hollow entries reflects the seasonal changes in Hubbard and his life as well as in the natural world around him.

At the beginning of this volume Hubbard writes, "When we are away from Payne Hollow, that place does not seem real or possible.... It is hard to explain our situation, to give reasons for our living this way to people who have no understanding or sympathy." A visit to the Hubbards' home through Payne Hollow Journal is ample explanation for anyone who has yearned to lead a life of simplicity and purpose.


Harlan Hubbard:
Harland Hubbard (1900-1988) was a writer and artist.