Driftwood for a Fireplace in Ernest Hemingway’s “Islands in the Stream”

On a cold, clear blue morning I fastened a sun bleached piece of wood to my bicycle and rode it home from the beach. My weathered passenger fell off two times, but it didn’t stop me from fulfilling my mission. “Look, what I got for you!” I proudly showed it to my youngest son, as soon as he came home from school. He inspected it, put it to his cheek with one eye closed, as if aiming at something with a shotgun, then gave it back to me. “Not good enough, sorry mum, you can keep it.”

Having kids is a good excuse of bringing strange things home from the seaside. But sometimes even they don’t need them at all. I am a helpless beachcomber. I’m not even trying to find exotic or rare things. Driftwood in a lovely shape is good enough to become mine. Or a tiny shell, a lost toy. Sea Library isn’t inhabited by books alone. I think, I’m trying to bring the sea inside here too. Piece by piece. Day by day. This week I’ll look for kindred spirits – other beachcombers – in the Sea Library’s books.

Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway was originally published in 1970 and reissued by Vintage in 2017. Photo: Beach Books.

In Ernest Hemingway’s novel Islands in the Stream, published nine years after his death, the protagonist is an artist Thomas Hudson, a good painter, who lives in a seaside house on a Bimini Island. “The house was built on the highest part of the narrow tongue of land between the harbour and the open sea,” goes the opening line of the book. “It had lasted through three hurricanes and it was built solid as a ship.” The house was built into the island “as though it were a part of it”. You could see the sea from all the windows.

“In the winter, when the northers blew and it was really cold, the house was warm and comfortable because it had the only fireplace on the island. It was a big open fireplace and Thomas Hudson burned driftwood in it.”

The first chapter of the first part of the book, Bimini, is all about the house and the fireplace. I have re-read it more than any other part of this novel. I am instantly transported to the floor next to a warm fireplace and watching driftwood burn, while the sea roars outside.

“He has a big pile of driftwood stacked against the south wall of the house. It was whitened by the sun and sand-scoured by the wind and he would become fond of different pieces so that he would hate to burn them. But there was always more driftwood along the beach after the big storms and he found it was fun to burn even the pieces he was fond of. He knew the sea would sculpt more, and on a cold night he would sit in the big chair in front of the fire, reading by the lamp that stood on the heavy plank table and look up while he was reading to hear the northwester blowing outside and the crashing of the surf and watch the great, bleached pieces of driftwood burning.”

I love the charged detail of becoming attached to some pieces of wood because of their shapes, but at the same time enjoying burning them, “burning driftwood did something to him that he could not define”.

“Sometimes he would put the lamp out and lie on the rug on the floor and watch the edges of colour that the sea salt and the sand in the wood made in the flame as they burned. On the floor his eyes were even with the line of the burning wood and he could see the line of the flame when it left the wood and it made him both sad and happy. All wood that burned affected him in this way. But burning driftwood did something to him that he could not define. He thought that it was probably wrong to burn it when he was so fond of it; but he felt no guilt about it.”

My boys in front of a fireplace this summer.

“The fireplace was a great thing in winter and through all the other months he looked at it with affection and thought how it would be when winter came again. Winter was the best of all seasons on the island and he looked forward to it through all the rest of the year.”

What have you found at the beach that you really like? I would love to see a photo.

If you want to borrow Islands in the Stream or any other book by Ernest Hemingway, let me know!

***

Nesen kādā aukstā un saulainā rītā pie velosipēda bagāžnieka piestiprināju pludmalē atrastu koka gabalu un vedu to mājās. Mans viļņu noberztais pasažieris ceļā divas reizes nokrita, kas mani neatturēja no misijas. “Skat, ko es tev atvedu!” lepni rādīju atradumu jaunākajam dēlam, kolīdz viņš bija pārnācis mājās no skolas. Viņš koku rūpīgi apskatīja, pielika pie vaiga ar vienu piemiegtu aci it kā tēmētu ar bisi, tad atdeva man. “Nav gana labs, piedod, mammu, vari paturēt sev.”

Bērni ir ērts attaisnojums, lai mājās no jūras krasta pārnestu visādas nekam nederīgas lietas. Tomēr pat bērniem ne vienmēr tās vajag. Esmu neglābjama pludmales ķemmētāja. Pat necenšos atrast ko eksotisku vai retu. Saulē balināts koks jaukā formā ir gana labs, lai kļūtu par manu. Vai kāds mazmazītiņš gliemežvāciņš, izskalota rotaļlieta, māla atlūza.

Jūras bibliotēkā nedzīvo tikai grāmatas. Šķiet, mēģinu par vārītēm te pārnest arī jūru. Gabalu pa gabaliņam. Dienu pēc dienas. Šonedēļ Jūras bibliotēkas grāmatās meklēšu radniecīgas dvēseles.

Ernesta Hemingveja romānā “Salas straumē”, kas publicēts pēc autora nāves, galvenais varonis ir mākslinieks Tomass Hadsons, labs gleznotājs, kurš dzīvo mājā pie jūras uz Bimini salas. “Nams bija celts šauras zemes strēles mēles augstākajā uzkalnā starp ostu un atklātu jūru,” skan grāmatas pirmais teikums. “Tas bija izturējis trīs orkānus un būvēts pamatīgi, kā kuģis.” Nams bija iebūvēts uzkalna sānā un “likās izaudzis no pašas salas”. Pa visiem tā logiem bija redzama jūra.

“Pa ziemu, kad sākās ziemeļu vēji un īsts aukstums, namā bija silti un mājīgi, jo visā salā vienīgi Hadsonam bija kamīns. Kamīns bija liels, un Tomass Hadsons kurināja to ar jūras izskalotiem sakārņiem.”

Grāmatas pirmās daļas, kuru sauc “Bimini”, pirmā nodaļa ir tikai par māju un kamīnu. Esmu šīs lapas pārlasījusi vairāk nekā jebkuru citu romāna daļu. Mirklī nonāku uz grīdas līdzās siltajam kamīnam un vēroju, kā izdeg sakrautie koka gabali, kamēr aiz loga ir dzirdama vētrainā jūra.

“Jūras malku viņš krāva lielā grēdā gar mājas dienvidu sienu. Sakārņus bija izbalinājusi saule un izalojušas vēja dzītas smiltis, un daži viņam tik ļoti patika, ka žēl bija dedzināt. Bet jūra jau pēc katras lielākas vētras izskaloja malā citus, un bija īpaša bauda dedzināt pat tos, kuri patika. Viņš zināja, ka jūra nemitīgi veido jaunas skulptūras, un aukstos ziemas vakaros viņš sēdēja lielajā atzveltnī iepretim kamīnam, lasīdams pie lampas, kas stāvēja uz rupja dēļu galda, un brīžiem ieklausīdamies, kā laukā gaudo ziemeļrietenis un šķīst viļņi, vai noskatīdamies, kā deg lielie, sadēdējušie sakārņi.”

Man patīk daudznozīmīgā detaļa, ka Tomass Hadsons pieķeras dažiem jūras izskalotajiem sakārņiem, bet vienlaikus izbauda to sadedzināšanu, “jūras malkas degšanā bija kas tāds, ko viņš nevarēja izteikt”.

“Dažkārt viņš nodzēsa lampu un izlaidās guļus uz paklāja, un lūkojās jūras sāls un smilšu rakstos, kas izlocījās pa degošo sakārņu ķeburiem. Uz grīdas viņa acis bija vienā augstumā ar degošo malku, un viņš skatījās, kā liesmu mēles noraujas no sadegušām pagalēm, un jutās vienlaikus skumjš un laimīgs. Tā viņš jutās vienmēr, skatoties degošā pavardā. Bet jūras malkas degšanā bija kaut kas tāds, ko viņš nevarēja izteikt. Viņš domāja, ka varbūt nav labi dedzināt šos sakārņus, kas viņam tik ļoti patika, tomēr vainas apziņu nejuta.”

Ernesta Hemingveja romāna “Salas straumē” latviešu tulkojums izdots 1974. gadā izdevniecībā “Liesma”. No angļu valodas tulkojusi Vizma Belševica.

“Lielisks bija tāds kamīns ziemā, un arī visus pārējos mēnešus Tomass Hadsons uzlūkoja to ar maigumu, domādams, cik jauki būs, kad atkal pienāks ziema. Ziema bija pats jaukākais laiks salā, un viņš to gaidīja visu gadu.”

Vai esi pludmalē atradis ko tādu, kas tev ļoti patīk? Labprāt redzētu foto.

Ja vēlies aizņemties un izlasīt “Salas straumē” vai jebkuru citu Ernesta Hemingveja grāmatu latviski vai angliski, dod ziņu!

5 Comments

  1. ieliku fb 🙂

    otrd., 2021. g. 21. sept., plkst. 11:45 — lietotājs Sea Library () rakstīja:

    > Anna Iltnere posted: ” On a cold, clear blue morning I fastened a sun > bleached piece of wood to my bicycle and rode it home from the beach. My > weathered passenger fell off two times, but it didn’t stop me from > fulfilling my mission. “Look, what I got for you!” I proudly showed” >

    Liked by 1 person

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