Posts Tagged ‘Rough Rock’

Dixie Fire Update on Philip Hyde Studio and Archive, Hyde Home and David Leland Hyde’s Safety

November 25th, 2021

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

The Dixie Fire, Philip Hyde Historical Wilderness Photography Archive and David Leland Hyde

The Hyde Home and Photography Studio Has Just Survived the Largest Single Incident Wildfire in Known California History

The Fire Threatened Three Times Over Three Months

Hand Line Below the House After Dixie Fire, Rough Rock, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 2021 by David Leland Hyde. Many thanks to the Inyo Hotshots from Bishop, California for all the excellent work they did on my property. During “Round 1” they cut one hand line and more than 40 days later when Grizzly Ridge became the biggest threat during “Round 3,” the Alhambra Fire Department from Orange County cut another hand line closer to the house. (Click to View Large.)

The Dixie Fire dangerously threatened the Hyde family home, named Rough Rock in 1957, and the Philip Hyde Studio, here in Old Mormon Canyon near Genesee, on three separate occasions over three months of hell. Once the Dixie Fire approached after combining with the Fly Fire into a raging wind-driven firestorm. It came whipping up Mt. Hough and into the Montgomery Creek watershed where fire crews somehow held it at Mt. Hough Road about two miles from home where I could see the gigantic flames towering high above the trees.

The second time the Dixie Fire came to get me, it first made national news by blowing through the beloved town of Greenville like a tornado and on across Indian Head, Keddie Ridge, Keddie Point, North Arm, through the Moonlight Fire Scar, changed direction with the north and west winds, jumped the five lane fire line on Beardsley Grade, roared down the Hosselkus Creek drainage into Genesee and down Hinchman Ravine into Genesee Woods, spotted onto Mt. Jura north of me and backed down Mt. Jura, finally burning one third of my property, everything north of Genesee Road, stopping 100 feet from my front door.

The third time, during a north wind in August, Dixie Fire spotted miles south onto Grizzly Ridge and began to once more threaten American Valley neighborhoods including Chandler Road, East Quincy, Greenhorn Ranch and on out east toward Portola, Lake Davis and eventually US Highway 395. The fire in my neighborhood ranged back and forth across Grizzly Ridge for over two months with spot fires all over the mountain face. One time it spotted as close as half a mile up Indian Creek from my home. Hotshot crews somehow miraculously put that spot out before it spotted again, or took off like many of the other spot fires on the Dixie fire. The east side of the fire raced off and scorched most of Canyon Dam, skirted around Lake Almanor, Chester, Westwood and into Lassen Volcanic National Park and beyond all the way to Old Station. The fire burned through the Chips, Moonlight, Walker Fire and many other fire footprints and many homes in the Feather River Canyon including most in the towns of Storrie, Richbar, Twain and Belden, but firefighters saved the bar and restaurant.

Finally 100 Percent Contained After 104 Days

I wrote the first draft of this blog post on October 25, 2021, the day firefighters finally got the fire 100 percent contained, a long 104 days after it started July 13 way down at the bottom of the Feather River Canyon off Dixie Road in Butte County near where the Camp Fire started in 2018. Within one month of origin, the Dixie Fire became California’s largest single fire incident in history. Fire repair and cleanup crews are still working now in mid November. One of the last areas to be contained was Grizzly Ridge above my house. Just weeks before the end of October, the Incident Management Team finally colored the fire map containment lines black from Grizzly Ridge up to Grizzly Peak near the Devil’s Punchbowl, for the first time since the Grizzly Spot Fire started in mid August.

When I first heard of the Dixie Fire and that it had triggered evacuations at Bucks Lake, in the Bucks Lake Wilderness, at Storrie, Twain and Rock Creek down the Feather River Canyon and in Meadow Valley, a bedroom community of Quincy, I looked it up on Inciweb, as I had previous fires in our area like the Bear Fire or North Complex and others. Inciweb did not even list the Dixie Fire. Under Dixie Fire, Inciweb showed a wildfire called the Dixie Fire in Idaho, which started before the California Dixie Fire and burned almost untended for nearly as long in remote terrain, much as our fire did for the first week or more.

I have been writing about my experiences during the fire and learning about other people’s harrowing Dixie Fire stories. The fire started small and remained small for days and even weeks, burning in rugged, remote terrain. Some decisions made by fire management are questionable. I will make some future blog posts on these topics here on Landscape Photography Blogger, but my experiences, observations and the stories of others will most probably find their way into print in one form or another. For now, I have pasted below some of my more informative Facebook updates, a few of the most poignant comments and my replies.

Facebook Post July 22, 2021, 10:12 pm (Three duplicate posts)

Mandatory evacuations for Taylorsville, Crescent Mills, Greenville, parts of Quincy, Meadow Valley, Butterfly Valley and in Genesee we are on evacuation warning as a result of being in the path of the Dixie Fire and spot fires off of it.

My Comment Not sure why this keeps saying I am requesting help. I’m working to get packed and get the house and grounds ready to leave. That’s all. Everyone is doing their own around here. We neighbors are all in touch though.

My Replies to Friend’s Comments Being here is not particularly safe, but it is necessary and a longer story than most would expect as to why. Plus, a ton of work to do… Was behind on raking, clearing gutters, etc. Just trying to be less of a target if the fire does sweep through big.

As my neighbor’s son, a fire fighter for BLM in Utah, said recently, “They don’t really seem to have a plan on this fire.”

We just got back long distance and internet. Everyone who has lived here more than 20 years is still here. Things are a bit better, but the fires are still advancing more slowly. I do have a backup plan to leave. Thank you all for caring.

The area he describes in this video as steep and dangerous terrain with rolling stumps and falling dead trees, on the very tip of the farthest NE point of the fire, is 2-3 miles from my house. If they don’t hold it there, the next fire line will be beyond my home and about 30 other neighbors. [Video subsequently taken down showing the USFS Incident Commander doing a chalk talk about how dangerous containing the fire is in the steep terrain above my home.]

A Friend’s Comment The anxiety alone must be profound. Take good care, David.

My Reply Traumatic. Your empathy helps though.

A Friend’s Comment Do you have a place to go buddy? You can come to stay here for a bit if need be.

My Reply Thanks man. Really appreciate that. Probably will go to Reno, but not sure yet. May not leave at all. If I do, I will go at the very last minute, long after most have evacuated.

A Friend’s Comment Stay safe. Things are just things. Your Life is what is of value.

My Reply There’s a lot more at stake here at my home and in the Philip Hyde Studio than mere things. Still, your point stands.

Fire Damaged Trees on Hyde Property Above Genesee Road After Dixie Fire, Mormon Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 2021 by David Leland Hyde. This burned during “Round 2,” when Dixie backed down Mt. Jura. It was close to the hottest part of the fire at Rough Rock. The tree trunks are blackened up 30-50 feet. There was one area nearby with no needles or leaves left on the trees, where the fire crowned, torched and scorched down to the bare base soil. However, most of the 5-6 acres that burned on Hyde land was fortunately a ground fire thanks to low wind, diligent fire fighters and decades of forest thinning on most of the gentler slopes north of Genesee Road. The steepest terrain was the least thinned and even though the fire moved downhill, these areas burned with the highest severity, including significant crowning and torching. (Click to View Large)

A Friend’s Comment Don’t wait too long. We went through packing up and leaving our place on Kelly Ridge during the Camp Fire and again last year during the Bear Fire which burned right down to the waters edge across lake Oroville from our house. Many people were stuck in traffic trying to escape the Camp Fire and road options up your way are not plentiful.

My Reply Thank you. We are not on Evacuation Order currently. My neighborhood is on Evacuation WARNING so far. Genesee Road was bumper to bumper traffic headed out toward Antelope Lake and beyond, but today there is very little traffic as Taylorsville, Crescent Mills and Greenville have already evacuated.

Friend’s Reply Good. I understand what you are saying but we were 160 miles from the house when the warning came out last year and it went mandatory before I could drive there. They would not let me back in to take prints off the walls. Just saying.

My Reply Terrible. I have a neighbor and friend in North Arm here who left home to get a few supplies and groceries… The evacuation went mandatory while he was gone. They would not let him back in to get anything out of his house. It burned and he lost ALL of his negatives, hard drives, prints, everything. A 40 year career all gone because of certain rules about mandatory evacuation that apparently cannot be changed even to save the photographs from a long career that included museum shows, permanent collections, major press, widespread acclaim, and so on. Seems very strange. I realize they cannot just let everyone run all over the place constantly and keep going back and forth or it would be chaos during mandatory evacuations, but there has to be some way to make exceptions. There needs to be better access and support for people who work from home and have their entire livelihoods at stake.

Friend’s Reply That is terrible. I think I might have run that roadblock.

My Reply It’s inconsistent. Sometimes they are really cool and lenient and other times they are very strict. It doesn’t always correlate to how threatening the fire is either.

My Later Comment We just got long distance and internet back. Everyone who has lived here more than 20 years is still here. Things are a bit better, but the fires are still advancing more slowly. I do have a backup plan to leave. Thank you all for caring.

Facebook Post July 26, 2021, 6:03 pm (Post of photograph of the fire)

The videos of the aftermath of the beautiful little village of Indian Falls really turn the stomach. I think it hits you harder when you know the place and the people well.

Facebook Post July 27, 2021, 10:34 pm

Email update just sent to family: Rained for 15 minutes today and 3 minutes yesterday. Cleared off slightly after rain. Saw sun for first time in 6 days. Smoke thinner overall. High today was still only 70 F. Low 62. A locally raised friend, who works for Cal Fire, said they have solid dozer line all around the fire on this NE side 2-3 miles from my house with hose laid and it’s looking good. No sight, glow or smell of flames. Highway Patrol and Sheriff’s Deputies patrolling our Road, one every 5-10 minutes, watching for spot fires to allow all engines to be on the fire. I am nearly done with raking and have soaked ground 200+ feet out with trees wet up 20+ feet all around the house. Need to repair a roof leak tomorrow. Then I can put sprinklers on top. Keep fingers crossed, prayers going up, rain dances rolling and whatever else you believe in, please keep it up. St. Francis is here and working.

My Reply to a Friend’s Comment So far so good. Terrible shame about the beautiful little village of Indian Falls though. I believe everyone survived, but 8 out of 31 homes, or something like that, were completely destroyed. It aint over yet. It is a very big fire and only 2.5 miles from Rough Rock and several hundred other residences, not to mention just a little further away from Crescent Mills, Greenville, Meadow Valley and even Quincy, our county seat. Quincy is fortunate to be upwind from the closest part of the blaze and have much better fire line in between.

My Reply to Another Comment Improving every day. Fire crews are here protecting homes. They emphasize they are doing contingency work. There is no immediate danger, but we are on the leading edge of one of the largest wildfires in California history. My house is 2 miles from the fire line and the fire behind it is still slopping over and not fully “contained.”

Facebook Post July 28, 2021, 11:10 am

Much cooler and crisp this morning. Even though a veil of smoke still hangs in the air, faint traces of blue sky can be seen for the first time in many days behind the emerging mountaintop lit by a faint sun. Sky blue never looked so beautiful before, but with the sun out, the fire heat can increase too. I am staying alert and continuing to work my preparation plan.

My Reply to a Friend’s Comment Whew. I’m sore, exhausted, bruised and filthy. I’m gonna shower and hit the hay.

A Friend’s Comment You are a better man/person than I, I would probably be hitting the bottle! Yes do rest up and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

My Reply I might do that later if I have any energy left. There is a long way to go on this. Not time to celebrate yet, or even drown ourselves in our woes. No rest for the wicked. I’m still working, still raking, up on the roof working on a major leak so I can, or the fire fighters can put a lot of water on my roof without me taking a big shower inside.

A Friend’s Comment How do they alert you when it is so close?

My Reply No cell service here at the house. We do alerts around here the old fashioned way – community networking by phone right now mainly, email or internet when available. Or, like this afternoon, an engine crew pulled up and put a fire hose around my house and said it was mainly precautionary just in case. The fire has been at more or less the same acreage for 2-3 days and has good line around it. They are just afraid parts of it could kick up again because there are still tons of hot fuels inside the perimeter. They continue to take extra care because this is the largest wildfire in Calif. history and we are on the leading edge.

A Friend’s Comment How’s it going David?

My Reply Exhausted from raking and moving sprinklers. Sigh.

Facebook Post July 30, 2021, 3:49 pm

Yesterday evening’s dry lightning caused 1,800 acres of new spot fires around Indian Valley overnight and this morning. Hottest part of entire Dixie Fire is bordering Indian Valley on Mt. Hough and parts of Arlington Road. Flames along road, but they have saved the tree canopy. Fire is moving mainly on the ground from the ridge top down.

A Friend’s Comment I heard just now of a new fire by Greenville.

My Reply Yes, I heard that too. Besides dry lightning yesterday evening, we have high NE winds now, blowing the opposite way of the fire, forcing it back into it’s own footprint. Crazy weather, most of it probably caused by the fire itself. (I will need to verify to be sure, but I believe that new fire was near Round Valley Lake. This was also the day the Evans Fire started on the flank of Mt. Evans above North Arm. When the Evans Fire combined with the Dixie Fire about a week later, it became a fire tornado that destroyed more than a handful of homes on Diamond Mountain Road and North Arm Road. This same day a number of other devastating fires started around Northern California. Meanwhile, there were areas of slight rain over the Dixie Fire and winds calmed. It rained for 15 minutes here at Rough Rock.)

Facebook Post August 2, 2021 8:56 am

It’s still a bit smokey in the afternoon, but this morning we have blue skies over the fire.

A Friend’s Comment Do you have to evacuate?

My Reply We’ve been in and out of Mandatory Evacuation status twice so far. Skies are getting bluer all the time, but the main fire still has smoke plumes and hot spots. Greenville has been on Mandatory evacuation all along, but we went to a Warning day before yesterday. (We found out later that Greenville was also downgraded to an Evacuation Warning that day, only to go back to Mandatory late the next day when the wind took off again. Most of the town burned two days later in the afternoon of August 4. Many people ironically had brought belongings back when they returned after the first Mandatory Evac was lifted, only to have to leave quickly without them on the second Mandatory notice.)

Facebook Post August 5, 2021, 12:39 pm

The fire kicked up a great deal yesterday with 40 MPH SW winds. Reports are Greenville is nearly all burned. Crescent Mills is under immediate threat and Taylorsville is back on Mandatory Evacuation. I am in Quincy for prescriptions, groceries and internet. Headed back home with my neighbor now.

A Friend’s Comment We came back and left again. Smoke was horrific.

My Reply It is. Really, really bad. Worst I’ve ever seen. Tuesday and Wednesday were the worst yet on this fire. A Friend’s Comment I heard about Greenville on the news at noon and crossed fingers and toes then started praying for you and your neighbors. My Reply Thanks and blessings. Friend’s Reply It just brought tears to my eyes to see your response in real time. How are you and where are you, did your home fare well?

My Reply All is well so far. Tensions are rising again locally as the fire backs toward Taylorsville.

A Friend’s Comment David…be safe! I’m monitoring on the aerial the Olsen Barn! The firefighters put a line around it too. Sigh. We don’t need anymore loss this fire season!

My Reply Great news. Our group leader may have more info too. I hear he is doing a lot on North Valley Road near Greenville to help neighbors.

Looking South Across Greenville from Main Street After Dixie Fire, Indian Valley, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 2021 by David Leland Hyde. (Click to View Large)

A Friend’s Comment Be safe David there is no way this monster can be fought with a garden hose…Greenville is leveled.

My Reply Totally agree. The fight is in the preparation. That said, I’m not going to stand up against a firestorm. Whether I run or fight will all depend on the shape the fire is in if it approaches. I have already heard enough stories from friends and firefighters who tried to save homes. Our local TFD guys said they’ve already seen sights way worse than anything else in 40 and 50 year careers on fires.

Friend’s Reply And the wind can come up big at any moment. Best just to leave. My Reply Depends on your background and how much is at stake. A Friend’s Comment This gets harder to believe all the time. Or am I dreaming? Well David, you´re more important than a building, so keep your distance.

My Reply As you probably know, it aint just the building. There’s a little matter of world-renowned historically significant original film, which of course is just a “thing” too, in the big scheme.

A Friend’s Comment Heard about Greenville – how close are you to it? My Reply Greenville was on the other side of Indian Valley, 12 miles away. I went to Kindergarten and 7-9th grades there and have many deep ties and close friends. The fire is closer than that now. Friend’s Reply Is situation close to you any better? keep hearing Dixie still only around 30% contained but not sure which direction it is spreading.

My Reply It seems to keep spreading in all directions, more or less, backing against the wind, as well as going with the changing wind, which has been from the SW most of the time, but also from SE, NE, NW and North for a few days recently. The weather reports are all over the map, plus the fire is making its own weather as well. Yesterday evening there was a very strange hot NW wind passing through my property, clearly straight off the fire.

Facebook Post August 13, 2021, 12:36 pm

Finally made it back to civilization in Quincy. Been without power, phones, internet and even without a vehicle for two days, but I am fast on a bicycle, haha, not so haha. Just got my Minivan back. The tragedy just gets worse. More homes and land of friends, and friends of friends, burning. More heartbreak. Surreal. There are a few bright spots of people whose homes miraculously were spared too. Heard the town of Westwood in Northern California was severely threatened last night, but due to great fire defense, still stands. The wind has been more or less calm with a few heavy gusts in Indian Valley the last two days. The fire is backing down toward Taylorsville, burning slower in the Moonlight Fire footprint. Heard some of the past burns often have brush 10-15 feet tall, which makes them faster, but not as intense as forest. Taylorsville, Genesee, Crescent Mills all now on Warning, downgraded from Mandatory Evacuation.

A Friend’s Comment Thank you for the update!

My Reply Thank you for feeding me text updates when I had only a few other sources. Luckily we have a strong community in Genesee too. You rock. Always helping people.

Friend’s Reply I only wish I could do more.

My Reply No doubt. Everything is so spread out and disconnected. Amazing how the fire crews avoid chaos and still are as effective as expected in the face of 100-200 foot flames.

A Friend’s Comment That has to be so terribly stressful seeing that which you know and loved burn. Sorry for all of your friends too. Glad you are safe. We have been wondering how you are and we have been watching the fire. Stay safe David.

My Reply Thank you so much. Appreciate your support. It is very strange when things that have been the same for 100 or more years suddenly disappear.

A Friend’s Comment Thanks for the update!

My Reply Your aunt and uncle have been key to my staying informed and getting back and forth to Quincy and back a few important times lately. They have been keeping their neighbor’s gardens and pets in Genesee Woods watered too. They are more and more like your grandma every day looking after everyone.

A Friend’s Comment Glad to see your update. Been wondering how you were doing. Continued good luck to you!

My Reply Thanks. The situation is getting tense again as the fire backs toward T’ville. Aaaarrrrggg.

Friend’s Reply I have checked maps several times – and thinking of your area always brings back fond memories of a long ago visit there to see your dad – 1986 I think! Hoping the best for you.

My Reply Mom and Dad were great hosts and gave quite a tour of the studio and gardens and Mom made great meals. Great you’ve seen the place. Hope you can come visit again when this all settles down if and when I am still here.

Friend’s Reply Would love to do that and trust you will still be there!

Burned Slope Below devastated Town of Indian Falls After Dixie Fire, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 2021 by David Leland Hyde. (Click to View Large)

Another Friend’s Comment I’m glAd you are ok!

My Reply Thank you. For the time-being. Dark days for many others. Staying strong though. Taylorsville is a town full of survivalist preppers, lol, to say the least.

Another Friend’s Comment Yeah. It’s awful.

My Reply You know better than I do. You lost a lot more in that other infamous homewrecking fire.

Another Friend’s Comment That was then, this is now. All of Genesee valley on mandatory evacuation alert with imminent threat. My sister in-law’s house in Greenville was burnt to a crisp last week, along with several other family and friend’s houses. Hope you, David Leland Hyde , and everyone around there is ok.

A Friend’s Reply So sorry for your sister & neighbors.

My Reply Very sorry to hear this sad news. My heart goes out to your sister-in-law. I too have had many good friends lose everything, or almost everything. Terrible.

Facebook Post September 14, 2021, 8:46 am

Events of the last month sure prove the adage not to believe everything you see on the news or in social media. Amazing how a few added phrases taken out of context can spin the meaning, severity and intent of a situation… and there are generally a large number of people lurking around to make snap judgements about an event they know nothing about too.

This last post refers to a legal situation that arose at my home during the fire. I cannot comment here or discuss the event due to possible future action. However, I can say that the matter has been fully resolved for now, unless I pursue the privacy and civil rights issues. I will follow-up in future blog posts about various Bill of Rights, evacuation and disaster laws, forest management, fire management, climate and California wildfires, personal Dixie Fire stories and other controversies that came to a head during the Dixie Fire.

Friend’s Recent Twitter Comment An absolutely emotional roller coaster. Hoping it gets better going forward.

My Reply It was a wild time. I think I have trauma. However, I am very fortunate and grateful it turned out as well as it did. Very fortunate indeed. So many others lost so much more.

Living the Good Life 6: Search for the Good Life

February 27th, 2018

Living the Good Life with Ardis and Philip Hyde

Part Six: Ideas From and Review of Chapter One—We Search for the Good Life

(Continued from the blog post, “Living the Good Life 5: Agricultural Influences.“)

“Such is the superiority of rural occupations and pleasures, that commerce, large societies, or crowded cities, may be justly reckoned unnatural. Indeed the very purpose for which we engage in commerce is, that we may one day be enabled to retire to the country, where alone we picture to ourselves days of solid satisfaction and undisturbed happiness. It is evident that such sentiments are natural to the human mind.

~ John Loudon, A Treatise on Forming, Improving and Managing Country Residences, 1806

About This Series: “Living The Good Life”

Lower Lawn, Raspberries, Apple Orchard, Raised Beds, Midsummer, Rough Rock, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, 2015 by David Leland Hyde. After return from Midwest travels.

In 2002, two months before my mother passed on, I interviewed her for possible magazine articles about her locally popular organic gardening, preserving and food preparation. I also wanted to capture the essence of my parent’s philosophy of living. They lived a low impact sustainable lifestyle long before “sustainable” became a word or a trend.

Because Mom passed on suddenly, I only ever made one tape recording of me interviewing her. I regret not having started sooner and filled a cabinet full of tapes of her. After that first recording session on a bleak January day, she gave me her personal copy of Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World by Helen and Scott Nearing. She first paused to hold the book to her heart, put it in my hands with weight and gravity and said, “This was our Bible.”

This series of blog posts looks at how Ardis and Philip Hyde, while not on the road or on the trail in pursuit of flora, fauna and photographs, adapted and invented their own version of “The Good Life.”

Part Six: Searching for the Good Life—Based on Chapter One

After the Hydes experienced a series of setbacks and mishaps while attempting to make a life and a living in Carmel, they first moved to Casablanca, Morocco, where they worked for an American company that planned and built military bases. Stay tuned for more on Morocco in future blog posts. Working in Morocco with little overhead helped them get ahead financially and rebuilt their confidence as Dad had great success at work mentoring another photographer. Don’t miss the earlier blog post in this series, “Living the Good Life 4: Failure in Carmel.” Also for more about the Hydes’ early career, rising to meet life challenges with mentoring from Ansel Adams and touching briefly on their adventures in Morocco, see the blog posts, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth of Modern Environmentalism 5,” and “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth of Modern Environmentalism 6.”

The blog post, “Living the Good Life 4: Failure in Carmel,” ends with Mom and Dad returning to the mountains and finally acquiring land where they could build a home. However, before this became possible, they did a great deal of soul searching, home location research, and made a study of various gardening approaches, building methods and house designs.

In Living the Good Life, Helen and Scott Nearing described how they lost their livelihood in the Great Depression and grew weary of the worsening conditions and limitations of city life. By the time the Back to the Land Movement gained momentum on the West Coast after World War II, the Hydes and their like-minded contemporaries wished to escape the city and “Live in the country, in a decent, simple, kindly way,” as the Nearings put it.

In an interview by the now defunct Darkroom Photography Magazine, more recently republished in the blog post, “Philip Hyde at Home in the Wilds,” Dad disavowed the idea that he and Mom lived “too far” from any cities or even large towns.

“I don’t think it’s isolation, I think it’s insulation,” Dad told the Darkroom Photography interviewer. “We’re insulated from a lot of urban influences that I’m not all that interested in. Don’t get me wrong… I like people… But I guess I like them in small quantities… What’s most important to me is to be able to look out the window and see the changes of the seasons, or the rain pouring down, or the stars at night…”

While livelihood stood out among other considerations in looking for the Good Life for the Nearings, Dad had a sense, even a kind of faith, that if he lived in the wilderness that he wished to defend with photography, prosperity would follow. Mom and Dad made their exodus from the San Francisco Bay Area during the boom just after The War, while the Nearings left New York City during the Great Depression twenty years earlier. The Nearings’ observations at the time apply just as much today, now eight decades later and certainly applied during the cold war when Mom and Dad were settling in the mountains.

If profit accumulation in the hands of the rich and powerful continued to push the economy toward ever more catastrophic depressions; if the alternative to depression, under the existing social system, was the elimination of the unmarketable surplus through the construction and uses of ever more deadly war equipment, it was only a question of time before those who depended upon the system for livelihood and security would find themselves out in the cold or among the missing. We disapproved of a social order activated by greed and functioning through exploitation, acquisition and accumulation.

The Nearings explored Europe, Asia and much of North America before deciding to remain in the Northeastern U.S. for the seasonal aesthetic beauty of big snow in the winter, budding greenery in the spring, heat and swimming in summer and the “burst of colors in the fall.” Physically they discovered that “the changing weather cycle is good for health and adds a zest to life.” As can be read about more in the blog post, “Living the Good Life 3: The Change of Seasons,” Mom, Dad and myself in my time, all have loved the change of seasons.

The Nearings had a threefold purpose they sought in the ideal life:

  1. “A life based on the values of simplicity, freedom from anxiety or tension, an opportunity to be useful and to live harmoniously.”
  2. To make a living in conditions that “enlarge joy in workmanship, give a sense of achievement… promote integrity and self-respect… assure a large measure of self-sufficiency… and make it easier to guarantee solvency…”
  3. “Leisure during a considerable portion of each day, month or year, which might be devoted to avocational pursuits free from the exacting demands of bread labor, to satisfying and fruitful association with one’s fellows, and to individual and group efforts directed toward social improvement.”

“I’m not really trying to play the money game,” Dad said. “Photography has provided a living, not a bad living at all, but when I left the city… I knew that I was leaving behind the opportunity to make lots of money. I think that when I first chose photography, I knew I was choosing the pleasures of creativity over the consolations of wealth. I define success for myself in terms of lifestyle. Success is freedom and opportunity to do what I want to do.”

For the Nearings the “road from New York City to the wilderness was short in miles but far-reaching in social consequences.”

We were leaping from the economic and social sophistication of a metropolis to a neighborhood in which few of the adults and none of the youngsters had ever visited a large city, in which every house was heated with wood and lighted with kerosene. In the first year of our stay we piled the children of several neighbor families in the back of our truck and took them to get their first glimpse of the ocean, to see their first train, to attend their first movie and treated them to their first ice cream soda.

The Nearings started as “summer folk,” who are disliked by the local population because they “do not intend to stay long or work much.” “Summer residents do no great harm if they occupy abandoned land, or marginal land unfit for agriculture. However, many of them let their pastures go back to woodlots, which is detrimental to the agriculture of the state when the land goes out of production. The more summer people the more demand for factory goods and specialties in stores shipped in from out of state. “Summer folk,” for the most part, obtain their dollars out of state and exchange them for canned goods in the local market rather than growing their own produce.

The social consequences of turning the countryside into a vacationland are far more sinister than the economic results. What is needed in any community are individuals, householders, villagers and townsmen living together and cooperating day in, day out, year after year, with a sufficient output of useful and beautiful products to pay for what they consume and a bit over. This is solvency in the best social sense. Solvency of this nature is difficult or impossible except in an all-year-round community.

Therefore, the Nearings soon became all-year-round residents of Vermont. The Hydes also started as summer residents in the mountains. Their first residence in Plumas County at Lake Almanor was at the Fox Farm, a small community where they knew the Kurtzes and the Kurtzes knew most of the others. The summer of 1948, when Dad worked in the Cheney Mill in Greenville, was Ardis and Philip’s first summer after their marriage in June 1947 and their first summer in the mountains. The next summer they also spent in the wilderness. Ansel Adams helped the Hydes obtain a job at the Parson’s Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park. They were to live in the renowned McCauley Cabin for two months and act as caretakers of the Sierra Club owned Parson’s Lodge for the summer, talking to visitors about the Sierra Club’s work and making photographs. Dad sung the praises of mountain life:

Went out this afternoon in the late low angle light and made more negatives of rocks, trees and Cathedral Peak, a photogenic, but difficult scene. We’re really beginning to realize what we have here in Tuolumne Meadows. We have no clock or watch. We eat when our stomachs announce the time for it and go to bed when it seems like the thing to do. We get up when we’ve had enough sleep. We feel no strain toward getting something completed by a certain span of time—it just takes until it’s done. This is altogether a wonderful way to live. We’re busy now laying plans for making it a permanent way of life. Why strain for security in the city when you can live in the mountains each day to the utmost—never seeking for tomorrow because you’re busy living today? Living is a full-time job—why relegate it to the leisure hours left after a hard day at the office? Why slave for retirement at 65 when all you mean by retirement is freedom to live. You can live now, live today. These Tuolumne days seem to bring out ever more clearly the things hinted at in our Greenville days and these sojourns in the mountains bring us into increasing contact with those who have found ways to live in the wilderness.

The Nearings 20 years earlier in Vermont were also looking for ways to live in the mountains full-time. They laid out their garden to produce a year around crop that more than fed their family. Another piece of the income puzzle turned out to be saving and buying properties in the neighborhood to operate as wood lots for firewood. Land was still very cheap at a handful or two of dollars an acre. The forests were good sources of income for many rural towns.

One piece of property the Nearings bought from Frank Hoard. He had licensed his land to Floyd Hurd and his wife and 11 children to harvest the maple syrup under a share agreement when the sap ran in the spring. The Nearings continued the same share agreement, ended up with half of the maple syrup harvest, and discovered that “maple syrup in Vermont is better than cash. It sells readily and does not depreciate.”

Here was something on which we had not counted. In a syrup season lasting from four to eight weeks, owning only the maple trees, the sugar house and some poor tools, and doing none of the work, we got enough syrup to pay our taxes and insurance, to provide us with all the syrup we could use through the year, plenty to give away to our friends and to sell. We realized that if we worked at sugaring ourselves, syrup would meet our basic cash requirements. We were surprised and delighted to learn that here might be the answer to our problem of making a living amid the boulders scattered over the green hills of Vermont… The possibility of sugaring for a living answered the second question: how to finance the good life. Our next job was to determine the way in which the good life was to be lived.

The passive solar, energy efficient, ahead-of-it’s-time construction of Rough Rock will be featured in “Living The Good Life 9.” The next two blog posts, Parts 7 and 8 in the series, will cover the ins and outs of various plans and designs for Living the Good Life. Part 7 will further examine the similarities and differences in methods and lifestyles between the Hydes and Nearings.

(Read more, “Living the Good Life 7: Nearings’ vs. Hydes’ Design for Living.”)

Living The Good Life 5: Agricultural Influences

March 18th, 2016

Living the Good Life with Ardis and Philip Hyde

Part Five: Agricultural Influences

(Continued from the blog post, “Living the Good Life 4: Failure in Carmel.”)

“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”

~ Aldo Leopold from A Sand County Almanac

About This Series: “Living The Good Life”

Fall Maples, Aspens, Black Oaks and Fresh Snow on Grizzly Ridge From the Garden at Rough Rock, Northern Sierra, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde.

Fall Maples, Aspens, Apple Trees, Black Oaks and Last Sun on Fresh Snow on Grizzly Ridge From the Garden at Rough Rock, Northern Sierra, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. Scene when I arrived home from the #Heartland. (To see large click on image)

In 2002, two months before my mother passed on, I asked to interview her about her locally popular organic gardening, homemade preserves and all natural cuisine. I also wanted to capture the essence of my parent’s philosophy of living, their low impact lifestyle and long-term sustainability way before the word “sustainability” existed or the philosophy became a trend.

While the tape recorder ran, my mother joyfully began to answer my questions about more than 56 years of vegetable gardening, flower cultivation, ornamental breeding, gardening for butterflies and birds, natural pest control, fruit tree pruning, grafting and much more.

Unfortunately, we only made one tape. She died suddenly while I was 3,000 miles away on the East Coast before the interviews could continue. The afternoon after that fated first taping, she handed me her personal copy of Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World by Helen and Scott Nearing. She first paused to hold the book and look at it for moment, put it in my hands with gravity and said, “This was our Bible.”

The Nearings and their methods as professed in Living the Good Life, spiritually led and inspired the 1950s “Back to the Land” movement. The Hydes were at the early edge of this movement, leaving the Bay Area in 1950 to settle first in Indian Valley among the remote mountains of the Northern Sierra, then on a rocky flat bench of land on a branch of the Feather River Canyon, looking down on Indian Creek and up at Grizzly Ridge towering more than 4,000 feet straight up above the house they carved out of the wilderness.

This series of blog posts examines how Ardis and Philip Hyde, while not on the road or on the trail in pursuit of flora, fauna and photographs, adapted and invented their own version of “The Good Life.”  Part One serves as an introduction, citing sections of the book and how the Hydes applied them. Part Two reviews Ardis and Philip Hyde’s respective childhoods and how their influences brought them together and eventually to their own land in the country. In the third episode of “Living the Good Life with Ardis and Philip Hyde” I reflected on the changing seasons and passing years as their dream home and their way of life continue here. Part four of Living the Good Life, came from my interviews of Dad about defeated attempts to establish a home in Carmel near the photography market as he and my mother were advised to do by his mentors and friends Ansel Adams, David Brower and others. Failure in Carmel surprisingly took them overseas to Morocco in Northern Africa and eventually back to California where they built their dream home in the Sierra. More on Morocco in future articles and blog posts.

Part Five: Agricultural Influences

Before continuing the more or less chronological story of the Hyde’s “Living The Good Life” dream with the construction of their home to include passive solar and other green or passive energy features in future blog posts this series, in this post, Part Five, I will share how my mother’s ancestors helped found part of Sacramento and through their ranch contribute to the agrarian lore of the Great Central Valley. My mother orchestrated at least a start in agricultural knowledge during my childhood.

My father, born and raised in San Francisco, sought out nature all over the Bay Area. His father was an artist, draftsman and furniture designer and maker who also loved nature and loved the Sierra. He descended from a long line of schoolteachers. For more on my grandfather Leland Hyde and Dad’s other early influences, see the blog post, “Photography’s Golden Era 4.”

In contrast my mother’s ancestors were early pioneer families of the California Central Valley. My mother grew up in the greater Sacramento area, spending most of her childhood in the rural outskirts away from the town that is now downtown Sacramento. My mother’s maiden name was King. Ardis King Hyde’s father, Clinton Samuel King, Jr. grew up on the King ranch outside Sacramento. Mom’s mother, Elsie Van Maren King grew up on the Van Maren Ranch. The King’s sold their ranch when my mother was too young to remember. However, my entire life, until my mother passed on, she talked about her vivid memories of the Van Maren Ranch.

The Van Maren Ranch was located in the part of Sacramento that is now called Citrus Heights. The Van Marens were one of Citrus Heights founding families. Van Maren Boulevard was named after the family. The main ranch house, roughly in the center of the 1,000-acre ranch, stood on a hill that has now been removed where a shopping mall now sprawls.

One Van Maren family myth had it that during the Great Depression, my great grandfather Nicholas Van Maren exclaimed one day in exasperation that his greenbacks were worth so little that he might as well pave the lane into the ranch house with them.

“I’ll call it my Greenback Lane,” he cried out. From then on the family and their friends called the road Greenback Lane. This was how the familiar Citrus Heights thoroughfare received its name.

The main crops on the Van Maren Ranch were wheat, oats and barley, with a secondary production of grapes, almonds, apples and olives. There were also a number of milk cows, horses, chickens, goats, lambs and pigs to supply the family pantry. My grandmother Elsie had three sisters and no brothers. The four girls grew up doing the farm chores that in those days were usually done by boys, in addition to the household chores as well. My grandmother was a superb cook, who could easily feed a few dozen people. My mother, who had three brothers and no sisters, as the only girl in her generation, was constantly in the kitchen with her mother. Some of my mother’s best recipes were handed down from generation to generation.

My mom remembered trips out from the suburbs to the rural area that is now Citrus Heights to the Van Maren Ranch on weekends one or two times a month. She learned to ride a horse on the ranch as a little girl, milked cows and helped out with all of the tasks on the ranch that her mother had grown up doing. Mom loved visits to the ranch and did not mind pitching in and working with her grandfather around the ranch and grandmother in the kitchen. Mom was quite capable and hard working, even as a child. Her grandparents in turn enjoyed the companionship and help of their eager, inquisitive suburban granddaughter each time she visited. She remembered hauling water from the hand-dug well to the house by bucket the old-fashioned way and making everything in the kitchen by hand.

Both my mother and grandmother were tough as nails. They could out work and out rough-and-tumble any boy or man their whole lives. Part of what attracted Dad to Mom years later was how comfortable and fearless she was in the outdoors, yet how she also carried herself with grace indoors.

Besides being an artist in the kitchen, my mother was what gardeners call a “green thumb.” She could make flowers grow from rocks, which is essentially what she did for close to 60 years at our home in the Sierra Nevada. She had not had her hands in the soil much at all though for many years when my parents finally bought the property in December 1955.

Soon after, Mom and Dad walked the property with their friends Cornell and Pat Kurtz from nearby Lake Almanor, who also were accompanied by their four-year-old daughter Kit. A tangle of branches, decimated small trees and bulldozed piles of dirt and rock, the house site had been a logging staging area. Not much dirt mixed in with the Grizzly Formation igneous andesite rock. Indian Creek over geological time cut down through a giant rockslide that came down off of Grizzly Ridge and dammed up the creek. The bench a few hundred yards above the present riverbed consisted mainly of angular fracturing Grizzly Formation rock with some dirt in between to further wedge in the rock and make it hard to move.

This was more than 15 years before the publishing of Dad’s renowned book, Slickrock with Edward Abbey, but Dad and Mom had traveled much in the Southwest where the name “Slickrock” was common as were other names with “rock” in them such as “Smooth Rock” or “Balanced Rock.” For more about Slickrock see the blog post, “Who Was Edward Abbey?”

Recently Pat Kurtz described that she and Cornell had visited the Hydes in 1956 while they were still living in one of the neighbor, Bill Burford’s houses, before Mom and Dad started building our home in 1957.

“I remember picking up the sharp, pointy rocks on your land,” Kit Kurtz added. “The rocks I were used to at Lake Almanor were rounded. I was already thinking, ‘this is rough rock.’” While showing the Kurtzes the land, Dad mentioned that they could not think of a name for the place.

“Your Dad looked down at Kit,” Pat Kurtz said. “He asked, ‘What do you think?’ and Kit said, ‘Rough Rock.’” Dad and Mom looked at each other and at Kit with smiles of acknowledgement and agreement.

“That’s it,”Dad said. “That’s the name.” Our home has been Rough Rock ever since. I will say with great assurance that to this day it lives up to its name in spades, or despite and intensely in spite of spades, or any other digging implement.

Dad even had to blast or chip a few giant rocks. Tons more he removed to pour the foundation. The rocks taken out of the trenches for the foundation were distributed along the hillside to make terraces. My parents filled in behind them to build the soil for a garden. I was not born until 1965, but the pickup truck hauling program was far from over when I got old enough to wield a shovel or pitchfork. I remember a childhood filled with trips to nearby ranches and farms to clear manure, used hay or combinations of the two out of horse stalls. We made those trips in an old 1952 Chevy Pickup we called the Covered Wagon when it still had a corrugated steel camper shell-like canopy on the back. For more on the adventures of Covered Wagon all over the West see the blog post, “Covered Wagon Journal 1.” We also hauled dirt, sand, grass clippings, straw, wood chips and just about anything else that would make soil. I will write more about the gardens and gardening in future blog posts.

Besides being a laborer and off and on participant in Mom’s gardening efforts, thanks to my mother I was exposed to other agrarian influences. As a very small boy, probably around age three, my mother took me to a nearby dairy farm, introduced me to the farmer and to his dairy cows up close. Mom and I watched while the farmer milked his cows. We tasted the milk and I even took a turn at milking. When I was young we had milk delivered by a milk truck as part of a regular milk route. Later, I would go with my mother to pick up whole milk directly from the dairy farms that sold it. Mom skimmed the cream off the top and used it to make butter or to whip cream. We also made homemade ice cream from local whole milk.

My mother raised me on unpasteurized milk. I lived a highly active, sports-filled life and never broke a bone until I was in my 40s far away from my childhood home. I have never had any allergy problems either. A substantial body of scientific evidence links pasteurization, hormone supplementation and genetic modification of milk and dairy cows to food and pollen allergies.

My mother and my mother’s brother, Nick King, taught me how to care for, prune and organically fertilize our apple trees. For more on my uncle’s nursery, apple farm and beekeeping, see the blog post, “Actor, Photographer, Apple Farmer and 1960s Activist Nicholas King’s Memorial.” Every year Dad and I helped Mom pick apples in our mini orchard of three trees. Mom tried many other types of fruit trees, but few of them bore much fruit in our mountain climate and elevation of 3600 feet above sea level. Just before she passed on in 2002, Mom planted a plum tree in front of the house that just started bearing fruit four years ago. It produced a heavy limb-bending crop of plums one year, but unfortunately the raccoons ate most of them.

Another agricultural, small farm activity Mom instigated at Rough Rock when I was a kid was raising chickens. They were bantam hens named Henny Penny and Peg Leg. They laid a slightly smaller egg than most chickens, but they each produced one to three a day, which was all we needed. Dad built them a chicken wire cage inside our garden shed. They would go in at night and out during the day. I fed them around the same time each day as I fed Pad, our German Shorthaired Pointer dog.

Pad was our primary domesticated animal. Pat Kurtz originally found her for us and named her P. – A. – D. after Philip, Ardis and David. The Kurtzes had a long line of their own German Shorthaired Pointers for many years. Pad would stay with them when we traveled. Pad was also good with the chickens. She hardly even went near them. She ignored them with disdain and distaste. We never knew why. After a few years Peg was taken out one day by what must have been a raccoon, or possibly a Bobcat or even Mountain Lion. All we found were a few feathers. Penny lasted a few months longer before suffering a similar fate.

I am grateful to my mother for introducing me in small ways to farming and ranching. While I did not grow up on an actual working farm or ranch, I had at least enough taste of it to understand what the lifestyle was like and what producing your own food is like. Farming is hard, but highly rewarding work.

(The passive solar, energy efficient, ahead-of-it’s-time construction of Rough Rock will be featured in future posts in this series. The next post, Part Six, covers the process of finding and choosing a place to put down roots and establish a modern homestead, “Living the Good Life 6: Search for the Good Life.”)

Living The Good Life 1: The Book and Background

October 11th, 2011

Living The Good Life, Part One

Reflections on the book that launched the 1950s Back to the Land movement, Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World by Helen and Scott Nearing, and how Ardis and Philip Hyde implemented the book’s philosophy…

Lower Lawn, Japanese Maples, Aspens, Raised Beds, Apple Orchard, Part of Gardens At Rough Rock, Spring, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2009 by David Leland Hyde.

Living The Good Life With Ardis And Philip Hyde, Part One

By Nancy Presser and David Leland Hyde

The first day I met David Leland Hyde, he introduced me to the life and work of his late mother and father, Ardis and Philip Hyde. David explained his father’s life long dedication to wilderness conservation through landscape photography of the American West. David also shared how his father designed, drew the plans and built the family home.

Even though David was fighting off a mid-winter flu, he still took the time to lead me through the Hyde house and Philip Hyde’s photography studio. David said that his father built the place himself over two years beginning in 1957. Ardis Hyde helped in the evenings and taught kindergarten during the day. They acquired 18 acres and built what was originally a 1200 square foot home plus garage and studio, all on Ardis’ school teaching salary. Quite a feat I think even in the 1950s.

After I knew David better he shared with me that everything around us in the home, the flat roof, the solar hot water panels, the clerestory windows, the raised bed vegetable garden, the fruit trees and the whimsical stone lined pond and flower garden were all ideals of self reliance and low impact living that his parent’s adopted back in the 1950s. The foundation of the Hyde’s living philosophy came from the book Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World by Helen and Scott Nearing. This Amazon link goes to the original version which is now out of print and only available used. The new version, The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing’s Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living, contains the Nearing’s first book Living The Good Life and their second book Continuing The Good Life all in one volume for one low price. Recently, David happened to have his mom’s personal copy of Living The Good Life around and loaned it to me to read.

David is a voracious reader and has loaned or recommended many books to me to read in the time I have known him. However, intuition told me that reading this book was a priority. He first presented Living the Good Life to me in a way that made a lasting impression. He said:

In the 1990s I planted a garden at my place in Pecos, New Mexico. My mother gave me advice regularly and a local green thumb friend also taught me quite a few tricks to gardening in that area. For example, if you plant Marigolds around the perimeter of your vegetable garden it greatly decreases pesky bugs and slugs. As I delved back into gardening, I thought back on the vegetable gardens I had planted with my mother and on the gigantic 40X60 foot plantation that she tended in various years. I also realized that she was probably one of the foremost experts on gardening for butterflies in the Northern Sierra Nevada of California. At the same time some friends of mine had bought land outside Santa Fe, New Mexico and were building and farming. One day while visiting my parents in California, I interviewed my mother about vegetable gardening and gardening for butterflies. I recorded the interview, which turned out to be a delightful discourse between us and illustrated very well my mother’s deep knowledge and love of plants, insects and other aspects of pesticide-free gardening. I wish now that I had made dozens of tapes of her because she was an expert in canning, freezing, preserving, making her own soap, bread, cheese, butter, tofu and many other household items and foods. At the end of our session, she pulled me close and said very seriously, “David, here’s the basis of your mother and father’s philosophy and what we based our home lifestyle upon,” as she handed me her copy of Living The Good Life. She passed on not long afterwards. Ironically, I have only read the first few chapters. Living The Good Life has been on my list for a long time, ever since her passing in 2002. I regret that I did not get a chance to read it and discuss it while she was alive.

Because I now had a key into the insight of Ardis and Philip Hyde, I opened this crucial book to see how I could get to know the Hyde’s better and to learn more about growing a life close to the land. Being a city girl from Long Beach I never lived on the land and I wanted to learn how people did it. The closest I’ve ever come was when I helped create a cooperative organic garden outside San Diego, which we called the Edible Village. We cultivated structures out of plants. We made a dome from collected branches that became a bean and herb garden. We also built a corn maze for the kids and a labyrinth out of plants and rocks. Each participant picked out his or her own stone along the perimeter. We also had chickens and practiced biodynamic composting. I will share more about all of this in blog posts to come in this series. The introduction to Living The Good Life, written in the 1930s, and preface, written in the 1970s, are all about how crazy and chaotic the world was then. What struck me was that nothing has changed. Meanwhile, I have been working to simplify my own life over the last 10 years.

David noticed that I continued reading Living The Good Life more than most of the other books he had shown me. He asked me if I would like to write about my reflections as I read the book and how it relates to what I am discovering about the lifestyle of the Hydes. Helen and Scott Nearing, as well as Ardis and Philip Hyde in kind, had approaches to life that serve as examples that can guide us today toward living more happily and sustainably. What I find most fascinating about reading The Good Life now is that although the first publication of the book was in 1954 and the sixth printing was in 1971, we still have the same, if not worse, chaotic, degenerating society.

Helen and Scott Nearing wrote Living The Good Life after coming out of the Depression of the 1930s:

We had tried living in several cities, at home and abroad. In varying degrees we met the same obstacles to a simple, quiet life—complexity, tension, strain, artificiality, and heavy overhead costs. These costs were payable only in cash, which had to be earned under conditions imposed upon one by the city—for its benefit and advantage. Even if cash income had been of no concern to us, we were convinced that it was virtually impossible to counter city pressures and preserve physical health, mental balance and social sanity through long periods of city dwelling. After careful consideration we decided that we could live a saner, quieter, more worthwhile life in the country than in any urban or suburban center.

For further reading see also Helen Nearing’s latest book, Loving and Leaving the Good Life, written after Scott Nearing passed on at age 100. Here’s Wilda Williams’ Library Journal description:

This quiet and reserved memoir is a tribute to the “good life” and the ideals of self-sufficiency, simplicity, socialism, and pacifism that Helen and Scott Nearing shared for 53 years. Helen was 24 years old in 1928 when she met Scott, a married 45-year-old economics professor who had been blacklisted by universities and publishers for his radical views. In 1932, the Nearings left New York City for a Vermont farm, beginning the homesteading life described in their Living the Good Life (1954), the bible of the back-to-the-land movement. Later, they moved to Maine where, during the 1960s and 1970s, they played host to 2000 visitors a year. For Scott and Helen, old age was a “time of fulfillment. Scott kept his strength and bearing all through his last decades.” But as he neared his 100th birthday in 1983, he chose to leave the good life peacefully by fasting. Helen is a modest narrator, at times so self-effacing that she switches into third person as when she discusses her relationship with the Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti. Still, her eloquent chapter on death and old age and her loving portrait of a remarkable man makes this a recommended purchase…

Both the Nearings and the Hydes managed to find and implement the Good Life. For a lively discussion on creating the Good Life on a larger scale through building a sustainable world and the issues related to it see the blog post, “Art, Earth And Ethics 1.”

How would you define The Good Life?

(Continued in the next blog post, “Living The Good Life 2.”)