Here’s To You, Mr. Hemingway.

“If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.”

Ernest Hemingway


The Hemingway House in Key West, Florida.

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

There are two famous birthdays I always remember: Antonio Vivaldi’s, and Ernest Hemingway’s.

If you’ve never listened to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, then your life is incomplete; but don’t fret. There’s still time. Vivaldi’s birthday is March 4th, and I remember it because I think of it as march forth, as in, march forth and conquer with exquisitely beautiful and brilliant music. Even the horses and donkey love Vivaldi, which I’m prone to blast from the porch as I muck manure in the corral. I swear Donkey even chews in synch with the violins; he’s a very cultured donkey.   

Hemingway’s birthday is even easier to remember because Ernest and I share the same birthday — July 21st. Yesterday, as I opened presents and ate cake, I toasted Mr. Hemingway as I always do, and vowed to read A Moveable Feast. I envisioned swinging in the huge rope hammock on the porch, nibbling slices of apple and cheese and reading the good parts aloud to the terriers.


(Photo by Marc Averette, courtesy of Wikipedia)

I can’t think of Hemingway without thinking of his band of polydactyl (six-toed) cats, happily petable and weaving between my legs. A few years back, I was lucky enough to visit the Hemingway house in Key West, which now houses the descendants of the cats he left behind. Lagging behind on the tour, I even laid down on his bed, (shhhhhhhh), when no one was left in his bedroom but me. 


There’s a beautiful piece of art on the bureau, a gift from his friend Pablo Picasso, and of course, as a writer, the other thing that stood out was his typewriter. It was easy to picture him sitting in front of it, pounding away. It’s said his favorite was the Royal portable typewriter, the Quiet Deluxe model.


(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia) 

He even frequented Sloppy Joe’s, a famous restaurant/bar which I have to agree has excellent food and ambiance. Following his old haunts, you almost expect to see him nod hello as he passes on the streets, or find him sitting next to you at the bar, passing the salt and ketchup.

So many of our great minds succumb to depression, and worse, suicide, as did Ernest Hemingway on July 2nd, 1961, just weeks before his 62nd birthday. A memorial in Ketchum, Idaho is inscribed with his own words: 

“Best of all he loved the fall
The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
Leaves floating on the trout streams
And above the hills
The high blue windless skies
Now he will be a part of them forever.”

Ernest Hemingway – Idaho – 1939

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hemingway. You knew the secret writers have always known — through words there is immortality for mere mortals, minus the storms that plague us and free of the minds wired to create and destroy so exquisitely.

I bet you’d smile to see people reading your work on their Kindles. I wonder what computer you’d prefer — laptop or PC, Mac or Windows?     


10 Responses

  1. Hemmingway is the man. That tour sounds awesome. And by the way, your secret is safe with me: I would have lay down on the bed too.


  2. Hey “Penny” : )

    The tour was absolutely *awesome*. I hope to go again in the future. Just Key West itself is unbelievable. Paradise.

    If you ever go, you have to hit Sloppy Joe’s, the Hemingway House and definitely Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Cafe, and have a “Cheeseburger In Paradise”.

    And thanks for keeping my secret, winks. I just couldn’t help myself.


  3. I enjoyed this post! I love Hemingway. And I totally would have taken liberties in his rooms. 🙂 That photo with the typewriter is tempting!

    You said “the cats he left behind.” They must be awfully old!! Surely you don’t mean they were actually his cats, like, they sat in his lap and such? Or do you?

    I have a dream to go to England, especially, to hang out with Shakespeare and the Inklings.

  4. LOL! Thank you, Steph, for your editor’s eagle-eye. : )

    Descendants, that is, of the cats. I fixed it in the post.

    They *would* be pretty old, otherwise, yes! : )


  5. LOL!
    And are these descendants also 6-toed? That pic of cat, was that one you took? I had no idea he had a band of them. How cool is that?

  6. Hey Steph! : )

    Click on the link in my article above, which takes you to the Hemingway House/Museum, and then, across the top banner, click on “Our Cats”.

    Very, very interesting! You can see the cats in photos. Their names made me smile. : ) They explain about the cats and how they are cared for.

    Hemingway was given a polydactyl cat by a ship captain, and the rest is kitty history. : )


  7. P.S. The cat photo was taken by Marc Averette. And big thanks to him, because I can’t yet find my own photos!

    I also have a really cool photo of a block of sidewalk concrete which the cats walked through before it was dry, leaving a bunch of six-toed paw prints!

    It was just so neat to be taking the tour and stopping to pet cats as you go. Essentially, the house is now theirs.


  8. Yes, good old, great old Hemingway. And his way out showed a certain courage as well, more I suspect than I could muster. I too want to go back to the Keys. A friend and I went spring vacation of senior year just to read “Idea of Order at Key West” (Wallace Stevens) at Key West, and damn if he didn’t describe the lights water and ships exactly.

  9. I want to retire in the future to a houseboat in Key West and write, write, write. Although with the horse and dog rescue, I’ll need an ark! : )

    I got myself so psyched, writing this article, to the point that I went to the Hemingway House site and ordered a bunch of t-shirts. : )


  10. […] recorded first by MuddUpRadio on 2009-03-01→ Here’s To You, Mr. Hemingway. […]

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