Friday, September 11, 2009

Carl Sandburg's Connemara

I like to think of myself as an organized person. I’m an obsessive list maker. I plan things so far ahead that my husband, who prefers the “fly by the seat of your pants” method most of the time, can’t help but shake his head. I always have Plan A, but Plans B and C are ready to go in case A falls through.

I have my own way of organizing things. To me, it’s more important that a particular thing has a specific place where it lives, so I can always find it when it’s needed. It’s less important to me what the thing and all the things with it look like together in their place. If it happens to look orderly, that’s a bonus. If it looks like a jumbled mess to the untrained eye (anyone who’s not me), that’s OK too. The bookshelf at our house looks atrocious (99.9 percent of them are mine). My husband questions me all the time about the state of the bulletin board in our office (“Do you really need that hotel receipt from a wedding we went to three years ago?” YES!).

There are books I bought years ago, newspaper clippings and magazines all over the upstairs of our house that I need to look at. My intentions are always good, but sometimes the clippings get recycled or the National Geographic gets passed on down the line before I’ve read it.

Over Labor Day weekend, I visited Connemara, Carl Sandburg’s home in Flat Rock, N.C. When Sandburg and his family moved there in 1945, he had already published poetry, nonfiction, and six volumes of his Abraham Lincoln biography, and won the Pulitzer Prize for history and various other awards. Yet, Sandburg chose to live simply in this old house with his family. His wife, Lilian established her own successful goat dairy on the property as well.

With the tour group, I entered the house’s living room first. To my amazement and delight there were books everywhere! Then, we moved into Sandburg’s business office where there were – gasp – piles of National Geographics! There were bookshelves on every wall filled completely with volumes and other knick-knacks. Then, upstairs in Sandburg’s bedroom was perhaps the best part: newspaper clippings were tacked directly to the wall! No need for a bulletin board there. Room after room contained books, magazines and newspaper clippings. Our tour guide told us that when the Sandburgs moved here, they brought with them 17,000 books. Today 13,000 remain. They subscribed to 50 magazines, and the issues were all over the house. I don’t mean for it to sound messy. Though reading material was everywhere, it was in an orderly fashion (just as it is at my house).

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the home and peaceful grounds where Sandburg penned a third of his writings. Here are a few photos from my visit.

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