Following yesterday’s disappointment I decided I’d adopt a day on/day off strategy and only go skiing every second day for the rest of the holiday. Stopped for a fortifying coffee at Lizzy’s, where we met an Australian, aboriginal-art curator, Julie Harvey, originally from Adelaide who owns a gallery here and spends half the year in Sun Valley and the other half at Milton in the Southern Highlands.
Suitably fortified headed for the Ketchum cemetery to catch up with Ernest Hemingway, the town’s most famous resident. This was a second go at trying to find the site. Hard in a cemetery buried in the snow. We had a clue – he is buried under three spruce trees. These are distinctive by their blue colour. After not too much trouble found the plot but to my horror it was covered with empty gin and whiskey bottles, left there apparently as some sort of weird memorial to his drinking. Hemingway isn’t celebrated and remembered for his drinking, it’s for his literature. What a bogan thing to do. There were also hundreds of coins left on the marble slab. Why the coins? No idea.
I owe my love of Hemingway’s books to my mother. She introduced me to them as a teenager. I couldn’t help thinking of those titles I read between the ages of about 14 and 18 at her suggestion. His themes: women, travel to remote places and adventure, especially the adventure, captivated me. When I sat down to write my three books I wanted to write like him. Still do. All his books that I owned were paperbacks and most went up in smoke in my apartment fire several years ago.
I think I can remember all the ones I’ve read
- For Whom the Bell Tolls
- Death in the Afternoon
- The Old man and the Sea
- A Farewell to Arms
- The Sun Also Rises
- Across the River and into the trees
As we cleaned up the slab, I thought about the implausibility of an American author whose work found its way into a remote farmhouse in western NSW and so influenced a teenage boy who hadn’t been anywhere. And now I come, half way around the world, to pay my respects and find his grave covered in whiskey bottles. I also found it sad that my mother never got to visit a place like this. I’m sure she would have found it very moving.
I didn’t ski today, Wednesday. Did 50 laps of the 50 yard pool in Ketchum YMCA. It’s the third time since I arrived here that I visited the pool. Quiet and clean – nice. Also it’s not too hot. Got to get in shape for the Palm Beach to Manly swim. If I can’t get goal no 3 which is skiing again, I can still try for goal number 4 which is the marathon swim with Barry Feyder. Never give up.