I could see it on the horizon…six miles distant…like a small sun rising over the pines. It was the Peachoid. Life is just not complete until the Peachoid is seen in all its resplendent glory…especially, now that it’s been freshly painted. For those of you who are fans of House of Cards…you’ll know of what I’m speaking. For those who aren’t…the Peachoid is a water tank in the town of Gaffney, South Carolina, that has, what Wikipedia describes as, an ‘enormous cleft’ made to resemble that distinctive characteristic of a peach. The water tower has also been, to the dismay of Gaffney residents who are extremely fond of the structure, the ‘butt’ of many jokes (visit the Peachoid link above to view some pictures and to draw your own conclusions).
But the Peachoid sighting was just a charming interlude on my way to Flat Rock, North Carolina, to visit Connemara, the former home of poet and writer Carl Sandburg, and now a National Historic Site. Sandburg moved there in 1946, when he was 67 years of age with his wife, daughters, and grandchildren. He lived there until his death in 1967 at the age of 89. Our tour guide attributed his longevity to the goat milk and cheese from the goats that his wife Lillian raised, and whose descendants can still be seen in the goat barn on this 246 acre farm.
The Sandburgs were said to have lived very simply. The most striking thing when walking through the house was the sheer number of books that were present. There were shelves in practically every room that held seventeen thousand books… in many of which could be seen small slips of paper that served as bookmarks…a record of when they were last consulted by members of the Sandburg household. I noticed many, many books on Abraham Lincoln that were most likely referenced by Sandburg during the writing of his own well-known works on our sixteenth President.
Carl and his wife Lillian, who was the sister of famed photographer Edward Steichen, were married for sixty years. Standing in the bedroom where Carl died in 1967, it was hard not to get misty-eyed when our tour guide mentioned that his last words, or last word, was ‘Paula’…a nickname for his beloved wife…
The Great Hunt
I never knew any more beautiful than you:
I have hunted you under my thoughts,
I have broken down under the wind
And into the roses looking for you.
I shall never find any greater than you.
~ Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems, 1916