Well folks, we’ve traveled north, south, east and west. We’ve experienced the mountains, the cities, the coasts, the caves, the glades, the geysers, the forests and the canyons of our amazing nation. This summer has been one epic adventure after another. Now we’ve just got one more stop before the leaves start to change, the air turns crisp, and it’s back to the grind of setting the alarm, packing lunches and checking the kids’ homework. There’s only one place we can think of that has the ability to put our minds at ease before what is expected to be a bumpy ride back to reality. Pasturelands, ponds and peace, here we come. We’re about to get a taste of the simple life in the countryside of North Carolina.
Poet-author Carl Sandburg, who received two Pulitzer Prizes for his writing, once described poetry as “the achievement of the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.” According to his granddaughter Paula Steichen, this was descriptive of his own life at his home called Connemara where family horses fed on grain and hay left over from the goat herd. Sandburg enjoyed meandering around the farm, which was complete with a large vegetable garden, a berry patch, an orchard, chickens and hogs, and its nearby trails infused with wildflowers and mosses. The estate’s 247 acres (that’s about 187 football fields!) and view of the Blue Ridge Mountain Range in the distance provided Mr. Sandburg with quietude he needed for his writing. It’s no wonder his poems like the one titled “Prairie” were essentially anthems to the countryside. His love of the land became a common theme throughout his verses. But the countryside didn’t just inspire him to write. It also inspired song. According to his granddaughter, the family would gather after dinner to sing along while Sandburg played guitar and his daughter played the piano. She remembers, “The dining room was also a family room – a place to gather for conversation, song and fellowship.”
Ingrain yourself in the simple yet rich life of Carl Sandburg. The Carl Sandburg Home Official National Park Handbook, available at the GPO Bookstore, offers an introduction to the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, North Carolina. In Part 1, Paula Steichen, granddaughter of Carl Sandburg, tells of the family life at Connemara. In Part 2 she presents a biographical essay on Mr. Sandburg and his works, detailing some of his incredible accomplishments, including receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Johnson in 1964. Part 3 of the handbook provides tourist information and reference materials for exploring the grounds which offered, as Mr. Sandburg would put it, some of the “universal things that are free to everybody.”
We hope the sloping pastures have you breathing a little more deeply and the rolling fields have got you feeling at one with nature. Now, the tide is coming in. We hiked at high elevations in Arizona. We indulged in clambake of Cape Cod. We watched lily pads float in Florida. We were humbled by redwoods of California. We admired bison in Wyoming. We stood where soldiers fell in Virginia. We smelled hyacinths and biscuits of North Carolina. And that’s not even the half of it. But most importantly, we heard the stories of the history, culture, wildlife, and people that make our country so great. Thank you for coming along for the ride.
More from our Summer Travel Series:
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About the author: Blogger contributor Cat Goergen is the PR Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations office.