The National Park Service guide told us that Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) spent a lifetime “exploring what it meant to be an American and asked the eternal questions, Who am I, where am I going, and where have I been?” The Poet Laureate and three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner’s home is located in Flat Rock, North Carolina. He moved there with his family (his wife Lilian, three daughters and two grandchildren) in 1945.
By the time he moved to the area, he was already famous. But at age 67, when many people think about retiring, Sandburg was still very active. How did the Sandburgs make the move to North Carolina? Our park service guide told us that Lilian decide that the Michigan winters had become too harsh for her and her husband. She was already deeply engaged in raising prize-winning goats and needed more room for her herd and milder temperatures. After a visit to Asheville, North Carolina with friends, she fell in love with the area and knew it would be a perfect spot for her goat herd and for husband Carl to write. But she had to convince Sandburg to move south. As it turned out, that was easier than she thought.
The Sandburg home, which is name Connemara, is a great place for families to visit. There are two large ponds, pastures, a trout pond, and several trails that wind through nearby woods. The dogs could have made the trip with me if only I had known that they were allowed on the property as long as they were on a six-foot lead. Cocoa would have given this historical site a five-paw rating. There are hiking trails, livestock, and people. Three things that make her life complete.
Sandburg wrote, “It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, ‘Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going.'” I think that is pretty much true. There are times when we just need to get away from the rush of deadlines and the demands of a far too busy life.
Carl had told his wife that he would give her $40,000 for the purchase of a home, but the price tag for Connemara was $45,000. He decided that before he made a final decision on the purchase, he would have to see it himself and then approve it.
The guide said that when he stood on the front porch for the first time he instantly knew this was a place where he could write and be at home. The farm had everything the family wanted and needed. They called it home for a little over 22 years. Sandburg died at Connemara on July 22, 1967.
I always enjoy my visits to the Sandburg’s home; and in the past, I have told others about it. It is so comfortable and peaceful. And I’m always amazed at Sandburg’s vast collection of books. He had over 12,000 (!) and they are stored in rambling book shelves that line rooms and hallways. I have more photos to post but will do that over the next couple of days. Descendants of Lilian’s goat herd are still at Connemara so you know I took photos of them.