I’m fairly certain that Ernest Hemingway would be right at home in the Napa Valley. Like his beloved Paris of the 1920s, modern-day Napa is a place of creativity, passion and celebration. You can find yourself at a party or event nearly every night of the year. People here work hard in order to enjoy a decadent lifestyle centered around fine wine, gourmet food and beautiful surroundings.
My most memorable summers have been spent in this valley and this year was no exception. In just the past week I’ve had the fortune to dance under a starry night, swim under a cloudless sky, enjoy incredible meals, and toast summer weddings, birthdays, love and life with some of the greatest people I’ve ever known.
In the mean time, inspired by movies like Woody Allen’s recent Midnight in Paris, and my book club’s choice of The Paris Wife, I’ve absorbed myself in Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. How I’ve never read this book is beyond me. It is brilliant. I’ve always been wary of Hemingway, turned off by the masculine, gruff writing that I remember from high school English classes. However, like I experienced recently with Steinbeck, his non-fiction blew me away. The straightforward prose of both writers only contributes to the honesty laid out on the page.
Hemingway thrived on his connection with other icons of the time. The nuances of historic literary figures like Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald are articulated so perfectly and their influence on the young writer is clear. He surrounded himself with inspiration. They laughed, danced and drank their way through this luminous time in their life. Eventually reality catches up with all of us, but these bits of life’s brilliance remain, as Hemingway captured in a letter to a friend thirty years after the Parisian interlude of his youth: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then where ever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
These end-of-summer days in Napa are the ones I know will stay with me. They make me incredibly grateful for all I have. The people around my table, with whom I share a bottle of wine, laugh about the foibles of dating, and celebrate milestones are the characters who form my own moveable feast. Napa, like Paris, is the perfect backdrop.