|Photo courtesy of Maggie L.|
We do have mint in the Literary Garden, and when we read some of the Nick Adams stories, we did go outside and pick, smell, and taste the mint as we read the first paragraph of "Summer People:"
"HALFWAY DOWN THE GRAVEL ROAD FROM Hortons Bay, the town, to the lake there was a spring. The water came up in a tile sunk beside the road, lipping over the cracked edge of the tile and flowing away through the close growing mint into the swamp. In the dark Nick put his arm down into the spring but could not hold it there because of the cold. He felt the featherings of the sand spouting up from the spring cones at the bottom against his fingers. Nick thought, I wish I could put all of myself in there. I bet that would fix me. He pulled his arm out and sat down at the edge of the road. It was a hot night."
We talked about the symbolism of that spring and its baptismal qualities, and what a WWI veteran like Nick might be attempting to wash away. We talked about mint and why it's used in gum, how it's billed as a "refreshing" flavor, and how that added to Nick's desire to purge himself of the horrors of war, of his early trauma, of his lustful thoughts, and so forth. And yes, having the mint in the garden provides a tangible and visible experience for my students that most literature classes just don't have. But when I bussed them up to Hemingway country for the day, everything changed.
|Photo courtesy of Alison A.|
|Photo courtesy of Rachel D.|
We are extraordinarily grateful to Chris Struble of the Michigan Hemingway Society and to Dr. George Colburn for all that they did to make this trip a reality. You can check out Dr. Colburn's new documentary on Young Hemingway here!