This is a personal note from Luanne, it has only been published on her Facebook page.
nothing captures the bittersweet nature of love and place better than hemingway’s “islands in the stream.” in the first section, “bimini,” thomas hudson lives in a house on a hill overlooking the sea. he has created an isolated life as a painter, has sworn off love to protect his own heart and women’s, and heads down to mr. bobby’s to drink. his three sons come to the island for the summer, and even before they arrive he’s dreading their leaving.
the book is beautiful, funny, so sad.
i’ve read it a hundred times and laugh and die all through it. my sisters and i used to quote lines to each other. the way he writes loss..
I don’t supose anyone gets though this life without plenty of loss. I’ve just spent a long weekend at my own private bimini: a beach cottage in old lyme, connecticut, built by my maternal grandparents in 1938. the house survived that famous hurricane and many since.it’s a small, salty shingled place on granite ledge overlooking long island sound.
the yard and gardens are a tangled mess of old roses, ivy, woodbine. the small circular stone-walled herb garden is overgrown but contains mint, thyme, rosemary, and sage planted by mim, my grandmother. big storms have knocked down some trees, but there are still red oaks, white pines, and wind-twisted cedars. manicured yards have never drawn me in.
the incredible light, bouncing off the water, diffused by trees, made it a great place for my mother and sisters to paint. our kitchen held a big easel and always smelled of oil paint. I’d take my notebook to the end of the beach and write it all down.
boys. beach boys. we fell in love as children and love each other still. sometimes there was overlap. I remember one bonfire where t. and p. took me separately aside and told me how much they each loved my sister r.
the air at our beach is an aphrodisiac. still is; i noticed just the other night. it’s brought us love and trouble, happiness and ecstasy, aching hearts and that feeling of constant yearning. deep and sometimes unrequited and other times not.
my parents met and fell in love at the beach, got married at christ the king in old lyme. oh,
my father. one of those guys who was everyone’s best friend. behind closed doors a different story. as the Irish say, “house devil, street angel.” someone up there messed up– wrong dad for three daughters. he’s like the daddy in joan baez’s “silver dagger”: “my daddy is a handsome devil…he’s got a chain five miles long, and from every link, a heart does dangle…of another maid he’s loved and wronged.” I can almost feel the burning outrage coming my way from TR lovers.
so here’s the truth: visiting that house is, thank you dickens, the best of times the worst of times. in spite of changes I’ve made the house smells and feels the same as it did every summer of my childhood: as if salt air, love, and constant wondering has seeped into every board. that’s where the ghosts live.
my dead father, mother, and grandmother. also the spirit of the sisterhood, once so connected and electric, between me and r. she is now lost to me, her choice. their ghosts waft around at night and usually settle down for a talk. sometimes I welcome them, other times find their presence disconcerting.
the beach is changing, rocks blasted and the graceful old cottages being torn down, in the words of my ancient and forever plumber, birthday cakes being put up in their place. people don’t like to rake leaves, so they cut down their trees. as twigg says, “it’s becoming point o’ no-woods.” i strive for acceptance but it don’t come easy.
the beach, the sound, the rookery on north brother, half a mile at sea, with gulls crying at night, the marsh with blue claws, egrets and great blue herons, fog, sun, gales blowing 30, it doesn’t matter. the beauty is constant.