ABOUT THE BOOK
“When I built my cabin and installed a wood stove I had never heard of a chimney fire. Live and learn. One cold winter night . . .” Thus begins one of Jim Stapleton’s many adventures during the eight years he lived as a hermit in the Allegheny Mountains. My Pennsylvania Hermitage tells why he went, how he lived, and what he discovered. Stapleton thrived there not as a back-to-nature advocate or Thoreauvian experimenter - he just wanted some time with himself. At his hermitage he wrote boxfuls of scribbled manuscripts, but never an account of his life at the time. A friend, Carl Cloffe, hearing an outline, urged him to tell the whole story. Stapleton does so here, largely from memory and notes-to-himself pasted on the wall forty-five years ago. The book is about self-discovery, awakening to the mysteries of the natural world, and all the funny things that can happen when you take the untrodden path.
“I came to my Pennsylvania retreat with a promising sense of inner sanctuary. Up to then I had devoted my life to the “outside”: success in academics, building a career, weaving a social web. Here for the first time I discovered a life within, an abundant reality independent of networks, institutions, or even other people. The longer I lived among the aspens and beavers, the richer, more elaborate and inviting this world became.”
“Returning from a long, hot, summer bike trip was a sensuous moment. Aching, reeking, liquid of limb, and wobbly with delightful exhaustion, I parked my bike and threw my sweaty body into West Branch Creek, a few feet below the main crossing . . . . Then the languorous moment of leaving the pool, steamy-flanked, shuffling about the buzzy evening on my deliciously drained legs, dribbling the soccer ball about the playfield in aimless directions, thoughts stumbling behind.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim Stapleton lives in the Green Mountain village of Bristol, Vermont with his wife, Diana Bigelow, with whom he enjoys an engaging avocation in the theater.