It’s going to come out all right—do you know?
The sun, the birds, the grass—they know.
They get along—and we’ll get along.
Yesterday, other than a few tweets, I didn’t write a single word. Actually, my day didn’t go as planned at all yesterday. We set out for a little mountain town where my favorite tea and spice shop is located. I needed some more of their creamy Earl Grey, and some more bourbon smoked black pepper for homemade beef jerky.
They weren’t open.
Never in a million years would I have thought they would still be closed for Christmas, but, there it was: “Thank you for a great 2015! We will reopen on Saturday 1/16/2016!”
Now, usually, I am a day late and a dollar short – but I stood there on the street corner, in the pouring rain, a day early and with plenty of dollars. The happy little sign mocked me, hanging there ever-so-slightly crooked. I looked up and down the street, it’s a remarkably adorable town, Brevard, but I really wasn’t interested in doing anything there except go into one of my favorite places on earth and buy some of my favorite things on earth.
“Let’s go to Asheville,” I said to my husband. He nodded, and we walked back to the truck, both happy we were wearing our waterproof hiking boots – because my God, the rain – and I tried to think of anything in the world we could do in Asheville that I haven’t either done a million times or that we couldn’t just sulk back towards home and do.
I have been to the Biltmore house about 40 or 50 times in my life. I love it there, don’t get me wrong, but it is hard to pay $100 to see something I can basically close my eyes and tour whenever I’d like. I also wasn’t really looking forward to the drive.
I wanted to be outside, despite the rain. Not in a truck.
God, I’m lucky to have grown up spending my summers in those mountains with an aunt and uncle who made it their mission to give me culture and education cloaked in fun. I can’t remember how many times they took me to Carl Sandburg’s home, but all I remembered from back then were the goats.
Goats. Let that sink in. Granted, I was a kid (see what I did there?), but I was in the home of one our most influential thinkers, poets, authors, human beings, and all I really remembered were goats.
So, we took off for Flat Rock. It never stopped raining, and it was cold. Not my favorite combination. If I’m going to be outside, trapesing around in the woods, and any precipitation of any kind is going to be falling on me, I’d far prefer it be snow.
The nasty weather did, however, provide a delightfully serene little hike up to the house. (They do provide a sort of shuttle service, but, not for this girl.) We only saw one other soul on the way up. Each step gave me more peace of mind.
I happily paid the $10 admission and watched a couple of introductory videos. I remembered nothing of the house, sadly.
The house, built in 1830-something, was in the throes of restoration and barren, and our tour guide was, at best, in a rush. It was obvious he was ready to finish his shift and touring two people around an empty house wasn’t something he was happy to be doing – but he was still very informative and answered my questions.
(Side note: I would give nearly anything to live in that house. Carl’s wife’s bedroom was the epitome of breathtaking, and I’m fairly certain any future bedroom of my own will always pale in comparison.)
I stood in front of his office, and I tried to inhale extra long and hard, figuring that was the best spot to soak in as much of his residual creative energy as possible. I don’t care if the guide thought I was an idiot, it felt amazing.
After the tour and a mini-shopping spree in the gift shop, we did ramble around the rest of the grounds, visited the goats (who loved me, by the way. I’m like a freaking modern-day Snow White), and for a few minutes, I propped my elbows on a fence post and stared out across the field in the most peacefully envious way possible.
I was sad to leave. I imagined stowing myself away in one of the many buildings that still stood, off-limits to the public, and probably stored decorations. I think, in his own way, Carl would’ve been proud of someone so inspired by him and the written word, that I’d even consider it. After all, he’s the one who said he would be a writer or a bum.
But, that wouldn’t hold water in a courtroom – so I walked back down the hill, still raining, and my mind scattered into pieces, thinking of a thousand things at once, but somehow I felt calm. Connemara, as the place is called, is magical that way.
I’ve already put it on the books to go back in 2018, when the place is again filled with all of his quirky, humble furnishings, to get a better sense of the man.
I’ll post a few links where you can learn more about Sandburg and Connemara, but first I’d like to leave you with another quote of his that I adore:
“Nothing happens unless first a dream.”