“It was a pleasant café, warm and clean and friendly, and I hung up my old waterproof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the race above the bench and ordered a café au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write. I was writing about up in Michigan and since it was a wild, cold, blowing day it was that sort of day in the story. I had already seen the end of fall come through boyhood, youth and young manhood, and in one place you could write about it better than in another. That was called transplanting yourself, I thought, and it could be as necessary with people as with other sorts of growing things. But in the story the boys were drinking and this made me thirsty and I ordered a rum St. James. This tasted wonderful on the cold day and I kept on writing, feeling very well and feeling the good Martinique rum warm me all through my body and my spirit.” –From A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemmingway.
It strikes me that in Hemmingway’s account of writing, there is a deep love, a faith in the unseen and a savoring of the physical pleasures that arise when setting off in search of a good story. There he is with his pencil and notebook, his memories of youth, the warm and clean and friendly café (where his wet overcoat has been hung up to dry), and the cafe au lait followed by a rum St. James. This is happiness. Why imagine that riches or fame or the right body weight or the right partner or the right job will enhance your life? All that is needed is right here in that little cafe on a “wild, cold, blowing day.” So familiar, yet so far from home. It hits the spot.