This past weekend in Saluda, NC, was one of our best anniversary trips ever — despite the drizzle and lack of brilliancy in the leaves.
The highlight for me was visiting Carl Sandburg’s home in Flat Rock. We showed up for the 9:30 a.m. tour on Saturday morning only to find we were fortunate enough to have our own personal guide through the home. But Jim wasn’t just any guide. If given a super hero title, his would be “Uber-Guide Man”, filled with facts and eager to share. He volunteers countless hours of service in order to give people like us a glimpse into the life of one of America’s favorite authors… and that he did.
Before entering the home, he challenged Brian and I to do a little detective work by determining (1) what was important to the Sandburg family and (2) what was not important to the Sandburg family based on what we saw (or didn’t see) in the family room, the first room we entered.
It didn’t take long to figure out what was important — music, literature and family. Board games were still sitting on the coffee table. (This home is one of few historic homes that has kept virtually everything “as is” with all their original belongings and settings as it was when he lived in the home.)
It also didn’t take long to figure out what was not important to Carl and Lillian Sandburg. Fine furnishings and “stuff” in general. They were very frugal and as green as they come. I couldn’t help but wonder as I strolled through the room what our home might convey to strangers about our values and priorities.
Immediately upon walking into the next room, his mail room, Brian and I locked eyes on the floor to wall bookshelves that not only surrounded this room, but practically every room in the house. (I was hoping Brian took notes as we plan to do something similar next year. He did. 🙂
Jim shared that Carl Sandburg was 67 years old when they moved to this home. My guess is that most would simply kick back and ease in to retirement while enjoying this type of setting from the front porch every morning.
Not Carl Sandburg. He was most prolific in his writings after the age of 67. I love that! He would write and enjoy his time on this beautiful farm for twenty-two years until his death at age 89 in 1967.
I also enjoyed peeking in to the upstairs room where he did most of his writing. No fancy tables for him. He turned an orange crate on end to use as table for his typewriter.
While I don’t agree with everything Carl Sandburg did or didn’t do, I walked away with an appreciation for his work ethic, his tenderness towards his wife, children, and grandchildren, and especially his taste in choosing a home site (although it was actually Mrs. Sandburg who found it first!)
If you know me, you know I am a homebody at heart — but I have to tell you — leaving the mountains is never an enjoyable departure for me.
I could always linger there a little longer.
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