Friday, September 24, 2010

Visiting Hemingway


Once I found out Hemingway was buried in my veritable backyard, I had to visit. Backyard by my terms meaning only a 6 or 7 hour drive away. I have put my foot down all over North America and thus this really didn't seem that far away.

I was already in Montana for my brothers graduation and the return trip home through Idaho could be reconfigured. Instead of the usual left hand way home, I took the right at Salmon Idaho, toward Ketchum, following the river along highway 93.

Up and down jagged mountains. It was beautiful, fair weather with a scattering of clouds kaleidoscopicing sunbeams all day. Going up the last staggering mountain, the gas tank went from a quarter tank to empty. Once we reached the summit and came down the tank returned to quarter full and the gaslight went dim.

We found ourselves in a wondrous green valley. A sign said Ketchum 2 miles, but I could see nothing but trees. Then rounding a bend, multitudes of fancy homes spread before us. It was a yuppie paradise. I imagined Hemingway rolling over in his grave at the sight of some of these fancy-pants shops and foo-foo emporiums.

It didn't take long driving the main road to find the cemetery. Pulling up close to the gate, the place was deserted. I was glad, I wanted this to be personal and private. It is not a very big cemetery, maybe 100 yards by 300 yards, but it had some cool pines and lush grass.

I had little trouble finding the grave site, they were near the center under the pines. Big marble slabs, his wife and son and a few others nearby. I felt the polished stone, read its simple inscription and reflected.

I didn't need to be here to feel close to him. His books did that already, the kinship in similar perspectives on life. But I wanted to come here as a tribute of my appreciation, to pay my respects for his work.

16 comments:

C. K. Bryant said...

Ummm... HELLOOO??? You just passed right through Twin Falls and didn't come see me. The nerve. See how you are? LOL Glad you had a safe trip and had a good time, though. Sheesh.

Paul R. McNamee said...

My friend and I visited HPL's grave in Providence. That's just an 1 1/2 hr drive for me.

C. K. Bryant said...
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Ann Best said...

I read him years ago, and have been wanting to read him again. Coming into your blog today reminded me of this desire - so I'm glad I dropped by!

Have a great weekend.
Ann

David J. West said...

I didn't know you then Christine, this was a number of years ago.

That close and I would too Paul.

Thanks Ann, you have a good weekend too.

Brian Murphy said...

Cool post and pic, David. Hemingway was an excellent writer who managed to say so much in so few words. I love his style.

David J. West said...

I appreciate it Brian. A strange part of me wishes he had tried his hand at spec-fic. I like imagining what could have been.

Angie said...

Nice post. I love the picture. Maybe I'll have to take a jaunt up there myself.

David J. West said...

Thanks Angie, just be sure to visit Christine on the way.

Ann said...

Enjoyed your post and the wonderful descriptive journey that brought you to Ketchum. I just finished reading "Old Man and the Sea," again. Such a great read. Loved the movie with Spencer Tracy too.

Have a lovely weekend.

L.T. Elliot said...

I'd like to visit one of my favorite author's gravesides. Although I try and tell him now and then what his books meant to me. (Yes, I'm crazy. I'm a writer, aren't I?)

David J. West said...

You're not crazy at all L.T., just a weirdy.

Vicki Rocho said...

I don't wanna be blasphemous or anything, but I read Hemingway a number of years ago and didn't care for him. (waiting for bolt of lightning to strike me down)

HOWEVER, that was quite some time ago and I've been wondering if I've 'grown into' him since then. Will probably give him another try.

Regardless of my experience, it's cool that you got to go visit his site.

Charles Gramlich said...

For years I visited the grave of Robert E. Howard once a year. I haven't been in a couple of years. It's interesting to stand beside the grave of one of your favorite writers. There is a sense of kinship there.

David J. West said...

Vicki-I hated Hemingway in high School, specifically "The Old Man and The Sea" because we were forced to overanalyze it rather than enjoy literature. I didn't "like" Hemingway until I decided to give him another chance when I was 28.
The Sun Also Rises
Green Hills of Africa
The Fifth Column and especially
A Moveable Feast
are what made me a fan.

Charles-I hope to visit myself for the first time next year for Howard Days! Hope you'll be there too.

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