“Big-Two Hearted River” is my favorite short story and the construction and effect of this sentence has fascinated me for years. It floats into my head whenever I’m able to escape the newspaper grind, and not just because I have it taped to the refrigerator.
The line that used to come to mind more frequently is, “I am monarch of all I survey,” which I remember discovering in Thoreau’s Walden, although I believe it originally comes from William Cowper’s poem, “The Solitude Of Alexander Selkirk.”
I guess, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more of a camp guy and less of a wanderer.
And as a matter of pure culinary interest, I still get a hankering every now and then for Nick Adams’ campfire combination of canned pork and beans and spaghetti.
“It had been a hard trip. He was very tired. That was done. He had made his camp. He was settled… Now he was hungry….He opened and emptied a can of pork and beans and can of spaghetti into the frying pan.”
But even as I get more sedentary, amused by Hemingway and tempted by pancakes, canned spaghetti and beans, I try to remind myself of the spirit of the bumper sticker tacked over the stove of my friend Susan Harper, same age as I:
P.S. The canned spaghetti and beans were Nick’s first meal in camp, after a long hike in. “I’ve got a right to eat this kind of stuff, if I’m willing to carry it,” he added. And he does catch a couple of nice trout for his next meal.