Posted by: dharmabeachbum | May 13, 2013

Hemingway’s description of the sea something to behold

Hemingway's 1923 passport photo

Hemingway’s 1923 passport photo

Ernest Hemingway is among my favorite writers and I especially love when he describes the ocean in his works. He did so in a book that was published posthumously, “The Garden of Eden,” which I borrowed recently from Chapin Memorial Library on 14th Avenue North.

I was hooked before I finished the first paragraph.

“In the evenings and the morning when there was a rising tide sea bass would come into it and they would see the mullet jumping wildly to escape from the bass and watch the swelling bulge of water as the bass attacked.”

Oh, how I’ve seen those mullet and menhaden jumping wildly just off shore along the Grand Strand when being chased by larger fish. The big boys go crazy fighting for the same prey and the water’s surface becomes a choppy battlefield. Glorious.

The “it” to which Papa referred was a canal running straight to the sea, which he had described in the book’s opening sentence.

Reading about the canal reminded me of the Intracoastal Waterway, which runs not straight to the ocean but parallel to it as it circumvents our little Eden. The waterway empties locally just to the north of North Myrtle Beach and into Winyah Bay near Georgetown. Our section of the waterway was opened in April 1936 with dedication ceremonies held in Socastee. I think of the fishes that bigger fish chase “into” either end of it.

By the time I finished the second paragraph of “The Garden of Eden,” Hemingway’s trademark lean, tight prose once again had me mesmerized.

“A jetty ran out into the blue and pleasant sea and they fished from the jetty and swam on the beach and each day helped the fishermen haul in the long net that brought the fish up onto the long sloping beach.”

The Master tells a magnificent story in one sentence and he conveys images to the reader without using syrupy adjectives. Brilliant.

The beaches here on the strand are often long and sloping as is the sea’s floor as it drops gently for miles and miles away from shore.

Anyone meeting me on our beaches best not make the mistake of getting me started on Ernest Hemingway. “The Old Man and The Sea” has long been my favorite book and I love to talk about Santiago and the boy and the lions on the shore across the big pond.

Papa was one adventurous cat and he spent a lot of time in Europe. So, I’ll close this tribute to him and to the Grand Strand and to the ocean with a salutation that Hemingway surely used many times.




  1. oh those mullet. i haven’t seen one since i was little, near the gay dolphin…they didn’t jump at litchfield and i haven’t seen one in n. myrtle yet…

    • Are you saying that I was bullshitting? Perhaps you’re not looking closely enough. I walk the beach every day and my observations are mine. Nobody will tell me what I’ve seen, just as I will tell nobody what they have seen. Yes, indeed. Mullet jump. Nearly all fish that feed close to shore, whether it be in a river or in the ocean, do jump from the water’s surface when chased. I saw them jumping in front of Island Vista, a nice place run by rich, wretched people, about two months ago. At 52, I think I can identify the fish I swim with pretty well. In fact, perhaps someone can perform a séance and ask Mr. Hemingway if he didn’t see what he wrote he saw. Now, I was wrong once. But that was a long time ago. Since then I’ve become increasingly senile and I could be hallucinating. I’m laughing. No hard feelings.

      • you’re absolutely right dharma. i was looking for shells and crabs who bite my toes. not looking out to see the mullet . i am so sorry, my avatar changed and it’s me errin….you can delete this…i started a page last week that was personal , i didn’t want people to read but it’s really me errin.

      • Errin, I had no idea. I’m not going to delete this. I just made a fool of myself, and I need to keep it on public record. I haven’t been sleeping much and I mistook what you wrote for criticism. Then I reread it, and I realized that you hadn’t said anything that was at all critical. It’s not the first time I’ve done that with someone through DBB. Sometimes, as I’ve already written, things shoot straight from my warped mind to my lips. I get myself in trouble a lot that way. Let me ask you this. How do I follow your page. I also have another friend through this site, and I can’t figure out how to follow their stuff either. My apologies. Rob. P.S. — You best keep in touch. lol.

      • LOL i said i don’t want anyone to read , so you follow
        it was just for 1 day for bf but turned into a week….i have to find out if i can delete where u wrote e.s.

      • raechelshearttoheart, I wasn’t thinking much when I wrote e.s., I edit my stuff through wordpress dashboard. someday I’ll explain what is going on. haven’t been here much lately. I love your stuff. got to get back to following it now after a week away from blogging. Rob.

      • i deleted the…it’s supposed torain for at least 7 days… it’s pouring so u have time to read .lol. no looking for shark’s teeth.

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