Here’s To You, Mr. Hemingway.
July 22, 2008

“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?