Harlan and Anna Hubbard, newly married in middle age, build the boat of their dreams and drift down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Harlan is an artist and a writer with a poet's eye for the beauty of the world. Anna is a musician and an elegant master of the arts of graceful living. For seven years (1944-1951) the Hubbards make their home on their little boat, drifting with the river, camping on the land.
Together they learn how to create and sustain a self-sufficient way of life that is infinitely fulfilling. It is a "river way of life" -- free-flowing, endowed with the love of nature, the discovery of community, the rewards of good work, and the joy of creativity.
The journal is a witness to history, embracing the gentle spirit of an America now lost to modern "progress." It is one of the most significant renderings in our literature of a deeply felt sense of place.
Out of this journal grew Harlan Hubbard's enduring classic, Shantyboat, and his idyllic Shantyboat on the Bayous. His later Payne Hollow is a Thoreauvian testament to the values embodied in the homesteading life the Hubbards lived for four decades after they completed their epic river journey. Their life together has been praised by Wendell Berry as "one of the finest accomplishments of our time." The Shantyboat Journal reveals its creation.