At Home in Nature
Modern Homesteading and Spiritual Practice in America
Publication Year: 2005
Rebecca Kneale Gould investigates the lives of famous figures such as Henry David Thoreau, John Burroughs, Ralph Borsodi, Wendell Berry, and Helen and Scott Nearing, and she presents penetrating interviews with many contemporary homesteaders. She also considers homesteading as a form of dissent from consumer culture, as a departure from traditional religious life, and as a practice of environmental ethics.
Published by: University of California Press
Download PDF (115.2 KB)
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote
Download PDF (114.2 KB)
Download PDF (34.2 KB)
List of Illustrations
Download PDF (52.8 KB)
Download PDF (128.7 KB)
In 1996, I was living in a wood-heated stone house on the coast of Maine. Thefood I ate came mostly from the garden. The waste I produced went into thesoil. I collected seaweed, for the compost, from the Penobscot Bay cove I dailysurveyed from my living room window. In ways both large and small, I lived alife dictated by the cycle of the seasons and the pleasures and limits of staying...
Download PDF (58.3 KB)
My first debt of thanks goes to the many homesteaders who opened up theirhomes and gardens to me from 1994, when I began an early version of thisstudy, to the present. Many who hosted me are not profiled closely in this book,and still fewer are mentioned with their real names (see the Appendix), yet therole they have played remains vital. There are others whose printed words gave...
A Homesteading Time Line
Download PDF (31.6 KB)
...1872 John Burroughs leaves Washington, DC, to take up a life of farm-1896 John Burroughs completes the building of his cabin Slabsides1905 Scott Nearing builds his first cabin and grows his first organic1907 Bolton Hall publishes Three Acres and Liberty; in 1908 Hall publishesA Little Land and a Living, foreword by Ralph Borsodi’s father,...
Download PDF (63.3 KB)
To say this is a book about American religion is—to borrow a phrase from EmilyDickinson—to tell the truth but “tell it slant.” It is a book about choices and ne-gotiating the circumference of choice. It is a book about people who have cho-sen to be self-conscious about their lives and to shape life with less attention toeconomic livelihood and more attention to living itself. The problem of living,...
Download PDF (152.2 KB)
I sit at the kitchen table of a home located about fifteen miles from the Nearinghomestead.1 I am surrounded by projects in motion. Children’s artwork is scat-tered at one end of the table. Dried herbs and flowers spill out from the kitcheninto the dining room. Books are stacked in piles on and near shelves. One vol-ume of a children’s encyclopedia, a staple of home schooling, lies open near the...
2. Getting (Not Too) Close to Nature
Download PDF (243.9 KB)
When I first asked Helen Nearing what thinker had most influenced her life, sheinstantly replied, “Thoreau.” Subsequent conversations turned up a rotatingrepertory of writers and activists who were touchstones for her: Scott Nearing,of course, whose notebooks Helen frequently reread; Krishnamurti, her firstgreat romantic and spiritual companion; Olive Schreiner, an early feminist...
3. Homemade Ritual
Download PDF (258.0 KB)
When Thoreau set up one-room housekeeping on July 4, 1845, he was engagedin two kinds of activity: the practical work of establishing a rustic home in thewoods and the symbolic work of expressing his personal declaration of in-dependence from the “mass of men” whose culture he wished to reject. Hisgoals and the means by which he achieved them were both symbolic and util-...
Interlude: Interpreting Ambivalence: Homesteading as Spiritual and Cultural Work
Download PDF (49.9 KB)
When Woody Allen commented on the “twoness” of his relationship with na-ture, his quip was intended to sum up the attitude one would expect from anangst-ridden, lifelong New Yorker. But a move to the country does not guaran-tee that this twoness will go away. Such twoness belongs to the human condi-tion. We long to break down the boundaries of artifice and culture that separate...
4. The Reenchantment of the Farm: John Burroughs Goes Back to the Land
Download PDF (247.1 KB)
By the close of the year 1872, John Burroughs had begun to establish himself asboth literary critic and nature writer. Although Burroughs had self-published hisfirst book, Notes on Walt Whitman as Poet and Person (1867), he was warmly invitedby publisher Oscar Houghton to send material for a new volume. Burroughs’soccasional essays, appearing in such magazines as Putnam’s, the New York Leader, and...
5. Scott Nearing and the Social Gospel of Agriculture
Download PDF (340.4 KB)
At the age of twenty-two, Scott Nearing built his first house and planted his firstorganic garden. In the growing single-tax community known as Arden, Near-ing bought one of the last remaining plots abutting the common green, handbuilt a wood and stone home that he called Forest Lodge, and reclaimed a poorsection of land with compost and manure.1 Soon he would become well known...
6. Ambivalent Legacies I: The Dynamics of Engagement and Retreat
Download PDF (127.8 KB)
The explorations of chapters 4 and 5 have served to put the work of home-steading—as presented in the first three chapters—into historical perspective.Burroughs’s and the Nearings’ homesteading efforts (which taken together spana period well over a century) reveal to us the persistence of homesteading as acultural gesture or performance, by which I mean not that homesteading is...
7. Ambivalent Legacies II: Gender, Class, Nature, and Religion
Download PDF (371.7 KB)
It is the ironic nature of religious practice, practice often infused with profoundemotional commitment and the sense that one is engaged with the “really real,”that ambivalence persists amid these very depths of commitment. For instance:A young man grows up as an evangelical Christian; his life has been transformedby the personal grace of Christ’s presence. He is also gay and must contend with...
Appendix: Of Hoes and Huckleberries: A Note on Method
Download PDF (64.0 KB)
Download PDF (273.6 KB)
Download PDF (81.2 KB)
Download PDF (1.3 MB)
Page Count: 380
Publication Year: 2005