In The Everlasting Stream, former Washington Post writer Walt Harrington journeys to rural Kentucky to meet old friends, hunt rabbits and recall the life lessons these once-unlikely companions taught him.
Based on his memoir by the same name, the film begins by recalling Harrington's first rabbit hunting trip with his father-in-law, Alex, in Barren County, Kentucky. Laughingly, Walt recalls what a strange figure he must have cut: a high-profile reporter with a taste for manicures and expensive suits feeling silly in his borrowed hunting gear, not even quite sure how to hold the shotgun Alex provides. He worries whether he will get along with Alex's hunting buddies Bobby, Lewis and Carl—three rough-edged African-American country men who seem to have nothing in common with the white city slicker. Little does he know that over the next two decades, these four "good ol' country guys" will change not only his opinions about hunting, but his feelings about the things that matter to him most.
Over Thanksgiving morning rabbit hunts and a steady stream of wisecracks (especially about the time he accidentally sprayed his father-in-law with shotgun pellets), Walt comes to appreciate the value of old-fashioned friendship and masculinity, the complexities of guilt and responsibility, and the enduring magic of a memorable moment.
By turns witty, revelatory and profoundly elegant, The Everlasting Stream is a poignant reminder of the small and not-so-small things that should be treasured in life.
The following is an August 2006 interview with Walt Harrington on KET's One to One with Bill Goodman.Bill Goodman: How did a Washington Post reporter end up rabbit hunting in Barren County, Kentucky?
Walt Harrington: Far away from Glasgow, KY, I met, fell in love with, and married a young woman who is still my wife, Karen Elliot. Her family hailed from Glasgow, so we began spending the Thanksgiving week there. I soon discovered that over Thanksgiving, in this particular household and community of people, the women pretty much went to the kitchen and started cooking for the holiday, and the men put on their hunting gear and grabbed their shotguns and went out and shot at rabbits.
Bill Goodman: Was adjusting to their traditions difficult?
Walt Harrington: At first, the visits were simply social obligations. I had to go down there, and as I say in The Everlasting Stream, I didn't want to seem like some kind of effete city boy who didn't want to get down with the menfolk. It was a long process of coming to appreciate, value, understand, and eventually to become friends with these men.Bill Goodman: How did you come to join the hunting party?
Walt Harrington: Karen's father, Alex, won a 12-gauge Browning shotgun in a raffle. And he told himself that if he won the gun, he would give it to me. That way, I could join them in hunting. Later, he said that it really hurt him to have to give me that nice gun. But he did, since he told himself he would, and I began going out with the men hunting.
Bill Goodman: Did your outlook about these trips change?
Walt Harrington: It was always to me a remarkably stark contrast to come to Glasgow and spend the week there compared to our lives in Washington. My life was so busy with work, which really was important to me, and then my family, that my ability to have meaningful friendships with men was strained. I began to see Alex, Bobby, Lewis, and Carl as something that I had left behind. At some point, I realized that I would like to tell these men's story and how meeting them, spending time with them, coming to value and appreciate them and their world, changed my own sense of what was important and valuable to me.