costa County, somewhat south of Missaukee,nand less fertile: the county ofnStadtfeld himself and of this reviewer.nAlthough in these United Statesnnobody calls himself a peasant, actuallynthe Jagers and their neighbors were anpeasantry, living very close indeed tonthe soil, wasting nothing, close-knit innfamily, hardworking, pious. The narrownessnof their life only half a centurynago — indeed, right up through thenSecond World War — will seem almostnmedieval to some readers; and thatnlife’s simplicity and lack of conveniencesnwill startle people who always haventaken for granted running cold and hotnwater, indoor plumbing, electric lighting,ncentral heahng, and all manner ofncomforts. Such readers will think thenJager family very poor; but the Jagersnnever thought themselves so, any morenthan did this reviewer when he spentnhis summers at his archaic ancestralnhouse in Mecosta County. It did notnseem at all disrnal to pump one’sndrinking water by the hand-pump outsidenthe pantry door. (At Mecosta, thatnpump still functions — the only one innthe village still in use.)nIt was no easy life, for farmer, farmer’snwife, or farmer’s progeny. Althoughnnot plaintive, Jager offers anninstance:nI look at the summer of 1942:nmy mother had four childrennunder fourteen; she had nonindoor plumbing, no electricity,nno refrigeration; and she wasnpregnant, hemming diapers innher spare time. To keepnwashing, cooking, ironing,nsewing, cleaning, and motheringnfrom becoming overwhelming,nshe sometimes had help onnWednesday or Thursdaynafternoon from my cousinnGertrude, and that gave her anmidweek break to attendnmeetings of the church LadiesnAid Society or the neighborhoodnHome Extension group.nYet it was a life of many modest satisfactions,nhealthy, innocent enough — andnof independence. Nobody grew softbrainednwatching television; boys thennread books; indeed, they bought books.nHow did they contrive to pay for books?nWhy, Father paid his sons, when theynpumped water for the animals, thengarden, and the family, a penny fornevery 333 strokes of the pump-handle:nat a thousand strokes a day, the minimumnpermitted, a lad could earn nearfyna dollar a month.nRonald Jager’s son does not pump,nnor read the sort of books the fathernread; the son “has not had the advantagesnof certain deprivations.” Jagerncomments on this in a passage as wiselynmoving as Gissing’s Private Papers ofnHenry Ryecroft or Alexander Smith’snDreamthrop:nIt’s my fancy, or literary conceit,nthat there are mythic streams ofnhuman consciousness that youncan best tap into if you knownthe special feel of blisters earnednfrom a pump handle. Be thatnright or wrong, it is a fact thatnour literary culture, from thenBible to Robert Frost and T.S.nEliot, is alive with springs ofnwater as symbols of life andnspirit. [Young Jager boughtnVerne’s Mysterious Island withnpump-money.]nSo, we continue drawingnfrom old wells. We keep thenexperience of certain privilegednbooks, like sounds of sighingnwindmills turning, safely storednin memory. We linger to savornthe luminous hoarfrost thatnwraps the brittle morning farmnwith meaning, like memory ofnmist frozen, and keep watchingnthe night sky for blazing rocks,naware, reluctantly, that therenare more rocks up there thannballoons. We still rely onnunseen angels to keep us fromnthe edge. It’s a mysteriousnisland, this earth, this life.nThe reality of the pump-handle and thenfantasy of Jules Verne conductednRonald Jager into young manhood: henwrites of that process with skill andnaffection. The eighty-acre farms, mostnof them, have been absorbed into largernholdings nowadays, or else lie derelict,nand Jager himself dwells in New Hampshire.nBut if latter-day Detroit is thenalternative to those stubborn eightynacres and the frozen pump-handle innwinter—why, give us again the deprivationsnof Missaukee County.nRussell Kirk’s most recent book isnThe Conservative Constitution. Henlives in Mecosta, Michigan.nnnMuch in Littlenby Katherine DaltonnHarlan Hubbard: Life and Worknby Wendell BerrynLexington: University Press ofnKentucky; 108 pp., $23.00nShantyboat on the Bayousnby Harlan HubbardnLexington: University Press ofnKentucky; 141 pp., $19.9Snw hen Harian Hubbard and hisnwife, Anna, set themselves adriftnon the Ohio in late 1946 in a homemadenshantyboat, they began not only anfive-year river adventure but a way ofnlife together that was as distinctive as itnwas unmodern. In his memoir of thatntrip, Shantyboat: A River Way of Life,nfirst published in 1953, Hubbardnwrote: “I had no theories to prove. Inmerely wanted to try living by my ownnhands, independent as far as possiblenfrom a system of divison of labor innwhich the participant loses most of thenpleasure of making and growing thingsnfor himself … I wanted to do asnmuch as I could for myself, because Inhad already realized from partial experiencenthe inexpressible joy of sondoing.”nBorn in 1900 in Bellevue, Kentucky,nHubbard grew up there andnthen in New York City, in the yearsnafter his father died, returning to hisnhome state to work as an odd-jobs mannand a day laborer. His free time went tonmusic, his journal, canoe trips andnespecially painting, though he was unablento make anything of a success at it,nand in general he would have beenncounted by most of the world as annunsuccessful man when at the age ofn43 he married Anna Eikenhout, herselfn41, a librarian at the CincinnatinPublic Library. It was she, a city girl,nwho suggested they start on his muchdreamed-ofntrip by shantyboat. Theynlived by barter, gardening, fishing, andnforaging on their way down the Ohio,nand when they met up with a mystifiedncensus taker on a Louisiana bayou inn1950, it was with guilt that Hubbard letnthe man believe his own suggestion ofna yearly income of $500. “How manynyears was it since I had sold that picturenfor seventy-five dollars?” Hubbard recordsnhimself as thinking. But alreadynMARCH 1991/43n