McNutt's Island Journal is Elizabeth Walden Hyde's candid record of her life on this small island off Shelburne, Nova Scotia, from September 1984 to May 1985. During what her daughter called her mother's "hazardous, solitary adventure" in a farmhouse with no electricity or plumbing, Elizabeth grapples daily with the long lists of tasks to be completed: fencing for the garden, log-splitting for the wood stove, painting boats, digging for water, repairing her sewing machine, and fixing the fridge among them, not to mention checking on her sheep.
Though she has help and company both human and animal (including her dog, cats, the sheep, the squirrels, and some tame deer), her journal reveals the hardship, the rewards, and the self-awareness that come from a life lived on land and sea. Despite the strength in her fifty-year-old body, she feels the effects of the unrelenting work. "Privy door frozen shut this morning," she writes. "Logs like splitting into stone. My shoulder is suffering the strains of survival." She sums up: "Survival is all here." The compensations are in the satisfaction of keeping the house warm and dry, surveying the beauty of the sunsets, and enjoying the visits from friends, family, her pets, and the local wildlife.
McNutt's Island Journal is one woman's compelling account of living in a place where you must rely on your own resilience and stamina each and every day. >
About the author
Elizabeth Walden Hyde was born in Palisades, New York, on November 26, 1933. She grew up to become a writer, actress, teacher of English and French and later became a sheep farmer on McNutt's Island, Shelburne, Nova Scotia. She had two children, Joanna and Howard, and died at the age of 59 in 1993.