Following The Boot Marks Of Those Before Us

Sometimes when life gets frustrating, it is good to look back and review the things that you’ve done and things that inspire you. Going back to the basics you can say. I needed some inspiration on life this week and I looked back on my favorite author Helen Hoover. Most people have never heard of her and she only wrote a handful of things late in life but what she wrote and why she wrote it is amazing.

I stumbled upon Helen several years ago when things with Darwin and I were just beginning to stir. I remember putting in a random search for wilderness books, life outdoors, or something like. I then began thumbing over a few books on a bookshelf and pulling out the bright red cover of “The Years of The Forest”. The inside dust cover gave me the brief summary of the book (as did the title) but I was really struck by the fact the book was about a husband and wife; Helen Hoover herself and her husband Ade.

I was entranced as I read how both Helen and Ade stuck it to the man and quit their  jobs in Chicago. Helen just quitting hers over the phone, left to stay in a modest little cabin along the Minnesota-Canadian Border. Helen documents their struggle to survive their first few years dealing with a lack of money, food, a crumbling shelter, and health issues 50 miles from the nearest town. Helen and Ade left Chicago in their mid forties without an exact plan but once the decision was made to leave the city for a full-time life in the wild, nothing was changing their mind.

Helen reminds me that Darwin and I are not doing anything new. So many people question us and think we are living our life frivolously, not paying our dues to society. Whatever! Many people choose to leave the comforts the nine to five provide such as big screen t.v.s, flushing toilets, and heat for the life of entertainment in the woods, a whole in the dirt, and the warmth of a fire. I feel we are simply reliving history, following the trail left by others before us.

Helen and her husband made the choice to leave their life in Chicago in 1954 and lived in their cabin for 17 years until society closed in and built up around them. Ever since I cracked open that first book Helen has stayed with me. I had many thoughts about her along our hike on the AT even referring to her in my journals having “Helen Hoover” moments. When things get tough and frustrating for us it’s comforting to remember Helen and Ade as their lifestyle was even less heard of back then and harder.

We share a lot of similarities in our lives thus far and I find that very comforting.  Although Helen died two years before I was born, she feels like an old friend. She is my inspiration to keep pushing, keep writing, keep drawing, and a reminder the universe will provide what we really need (minus the cats).

Who inspires you?

**If you are interested in learning more about Helen Hoover, you can easily find her books online and occasionally at your local library. You can also click the following link for an article on Helen and Ade: Helen Hoover

(Helen and Ade in Their Cabin- picture from the Minnesota Historical Society)

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2 thoughts on “Following The Boot Marks Of Those Before Us

  1. Thanks for the author suggestion.
    I know it’s so cliche, but I still love Thoreau. Naturalist, social reformer, and occasional hermit…what’s not to love? The collection “Excursions” is a personal favorite. When I was young I wanted to be an ‘essayist’, and everyone said there was no market for it. (I guess the blogosphere proves them wrong.)
    Darwin’s latest video said you two are from Evansville. Me too, Harrison class of ’81. Left for college and seldom go back. Happy to see two hometown kids living by their dreams.

    Like

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