The Book of the Hut

The Book of the HutThe Book of the Hut by John Silverio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I would like more books to be like this one- brief, impossible to put down, well written, and able to reach into one’s heart and pull the chords that lead to change and richness in present experience.

I’m a bit biased here. I am a fortunate man, living next door to Jack Silverio. Well, not quite the next door you think of- Jack’s place is down on the other end of the Proctor Road. On my end, the road has been abandoned by the town, but there is still a winding path through two stone walls that eventually leads to Jack’s, a pastoral reserve highlighting a life well lived and a home that has been crafted, weathered, and very much treasured.

I found much of myself in this book, particularly the references to the the back-to-the-land movement of the 1960’s (I was a little late for the best deals, for me it was 1973), when we launched our almost-best-ever idea yet- a decision for us to build a small home on this 2 acre south facing field adjacent to a wonderful grove of arrow-straight red oaks that we harvested for the timber frame of our salt-box home.

This book explores the concept and practice (in fascinating detail) of the one room hut, tracing the origins of this remarkably simple design, linking it’s marriage with the fire, cooking and heating, moving on to completely enclosed shelters with containment vessels for the fire (stoves), and sadly bringing us up to the drawbacks of modern life, where the system is generally mired in complexity.

Lately, we have been talking about moving on from this house after 34 years, into a small town where we can walk to a grocery stores and to a library. Maybe not so long a driveway to deal with in the winter time? While reading Jack’s book I found myself sitting at the kitchen table, looking up at the beams I hand crafted, and then I started to cry with wonder and newly recovered appreciation for the treasure we have here. As I closed the book, I’m now convinced that you’d have to carry me out of this home, if and when that time comes.

In the meantime, we do have a camp over on Hobbs Pond about 10 minutes drive away. A couple of years ago I built a 14 foot diameter hexagonal deck there, and have yet to build a structure that suits the setting. I now am invigorated by the thought of raising a little shelter there, and taking up ” the practice of recreational hutting”.

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