Helen and Scott Nearing, a progressive couple way ahead of their time, first came to my attention when I read Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book “Simple Abundance.” I was immediately intrigued by this amazing pair who were vegetarian, self-sufficient, peacenik back-to-the-landers decades before the hippies tried it in the 1960s and 1970s. I also liked that they were a successful couple with a 20-year age difference – the same as my husband and I.
I loved reading the Nearings’ book “The Good Life” where they explained how they built their own stone homes first in Vermont and then in Maine and lived a debt-free life where they worked for money four hours a day and then spent the rest of their day doing whatever they liked.
I was so happy when I recently got to visit The Good Life Center in Harborside, Maine – which is the site of their last home. I felt a rush of enthusiasm when I stepped on the grounds. The stone house was better constructed than I thought it would be – and the Nearings built it (with help) when Helen was in her 70s and Scott was in his 90s. It has a stunning view of the water.
Even though my family and I arrived about an hour before official visiting hours, we were greeted warmly by Sam Adels, who serves as caretaker along with his wife Claire Briguglio. He kindly chatted with me and gave me a tour of the home, which was just as exciting to me.
Lee and I enjoyed seeing the extensive library, which included a big theosophical collection and the Theosophical Society seal (we are both members of the Theosophical Society, a group that promotes the comparative study of religions). Helen Nearing was raised a Theosophist and inherited many of the books from her parents.
We also had a great time touring the gorgeous garden and were delighted to accept zucchini that Sam and his wife had grown. We then checked out the meditation hut and walked on the “fairy trail.”
I appreciate seeing this as an example that it is possible to live outside the normal commercial way of life and flourish. It is great to see people actually live values of sustainability and nonviolence.
We enjoyed the view of the Porcupine Islands (seen here) and had fun picking blueberries in the bushes nearby. It quickly got very hot and humid and we soon decided to leave. Locals told us it is much more pleasant to visit in spring.