Connemara with Gerhard

Our outing for the day was going to Connemara, Carl Sandburg’s home for the last 22 years of his life. Grandson David and friend Gerhard paused near the parking lot to read the first informative board.

052819 1 Gerhard David with Sandburg info.JPG

Near that sign, John chatted with an older man who saw Sandburg occasionally. He and his brother could not drink cow’s milk, so they came regularly to buy goat’s milk. Mrs. Sandburg had a herd of prize goats that supplied their need. The man said when they didn’t see Sandburg, they often heard him singing as he strummed his guitar in the house.

John and I toured the house last year after major maintenance projects were done. Pictures had not been rehung, and the furniture was not all in place. We were happy to see everything now back in order. The docent told us Mrs. Sandburg moved to Asheville after Sandburg died. She wanted to leave a legacy of her husband and sold the house and grounds to the National Park Service. She sold her goats, and she and her daughter packed their clothes, leaving almost everything else behind. The house is basically just as it was when our Poet Laureate died. He had three Pulitzer Prizes, two for poetry and one for his biography of Lincoln.

The Sandburgs had quite different schedules. He wrote into the wee hours of the morning, whereas she was up early to manage her goats. We saw her office, filled with filing cabinets of records for all the goats she had owned. They always had dinner together and exchanged news of their day. The docent made it easy to imagine daily life in the Sandburg household. He met a grandson himself, who recounted the time he dropped a cat down the stairwell to see if it would land on its feet. Both cat and boy survived.

After leaving the house, we went to the barn. We knew the park service searched the records and bought back some of the goats. All of them on the farm are descendants of Mrs. Sandburg’s herd. We enjoyed the house tour and delighted in the goats. Most of my photos were taken in the barn, as we petted the extremely friendly animals. Gerhard, John, and David stood with the red farm buildings. David agreed to pose as a goat. The little goat on the ground near me had surgery a few days before to remove an extra eyelid. There was a sock-like dressing over his head.

We had lunch in an Irish pub in Hendersonville before driving home on the Blue Ridge Parkway. John drove us to Looking Glass Falls, where Gerhard and David walked down the steps near the falls. By enlarging the photo, I can spot David’s maroon shirt on the lower right side of the picture. Gerhard, wearing a white shirt, is next to him.

052819 7 Looking Glass Falls Gerhard with David in red shirt.JPG
Looking Glass Falls

To make it easy for your eyes, I’ve included a photo of the two of them with the falls in the background.

052819 8 David Gerhard at Looking Glass Falls.JPG

We went on to Sunburst Falls, my favorite. Gerhard, David and I got out to see the falls up close. I restrained myself from taking a photo, since I already have so many. I did have one last photo of Gerhard on the spot where he took photos of the mountains at Pisgah Inn.

052819 9 Gerhard at Pisgah.JPG
I love watching shadows move across the mountains.

28 thoughts on “Connemara with Gerhard

    1. The goats were hers. She had more education than Carl, teaching on the college level. She bred goats for milk and was instrumental in raising awareness for the animals. In the early years, she was more well-known than Carl.

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  1. Watching the shadows move across the mountains is my favorite–it’s never exactly the same. I went to the Pisgah Inn with my brother and dad a couple of years ago. We really need to make our way back to your area. It’s so beautiful–one of my very favorite places.

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    1. Yes! You need to come here. I’ve met bloggers in VA, PA, and MD. It would be lovely to meet you here in my backyard. I’m glad you’ve been to Pisgah Inn. We have gone there about once a year since we moved here.

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  2. Anne – thanks for the lovely visit with a favorite poet of mine, Carl Sandburg. My other comment did not post unfortunately. This sounds like a visit I have to do some day. Much appreciated.

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  3. It looks like a terrific outing Anne. I enjoyed the goats of all kinds. It’s always nice to hear a bit about a well-known person’s life and their surroundings.

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    1. Going through the Sandburg home was a great experience, one that we would recommend to all our guests. They lived like ordinary people, not putting on airs or resting on their laurels. At the other extreme are the Vanderbilts at Biltmore. I think the Sandburgs would be pleased that their home is so affordable for tourists, whereas Biltmore costs a fair bit.

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      1. I like that too. I love Longwood Gardens, the DuPont estate, but like Biltmore, I think the admission is way too high.

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  4. It was the first time I read about Connemara outside of Ireland- I didn’t know there was a place in the US called that. I googled Carl Sandberg after reading your post and got to know a lot about him and his only wife. As you say, they lived like ordinary people and not celebrities. I haven’t read any of his works.
    Who is the family friend staying with you ? I haven’t read about him before or have I ? ( just curiosity on my part). I could see David’s maroon shirt at the bottom of the hill. I recall other posts made of the Pisgah inn. I feel like I have been through many places in the Switzerland of the US through your trips. Thank you for inviting us along. Your life is one long beautiful and memorable adventure.
    Susie

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    1. Gerhard was the German exchange student at our university for one year about 1961. He and John exchanged Christmas cards until he came back to the US to teach in Connecticut. He subsequently got his PhD from Brown University. He taught at Northwestern for a few years and spent the rest of his teaching years at Penn State. Gerhard moved back to Germany after retirement. We see him now about every other year. Email keeps us connected. When I first started emailing, he was my most faithful correspondent, and he was in Germany at the time!

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    1. I’ve been thinking of you and Mary Agnes. On Monday we are going to see another of my blog friends. Chicken Grandma lives in Iowa. It is so very special to meet people face to face after you’ve come to know them with WordPress.

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