Friday, November 25, 2011


What you see in Tupperware containers at the right is what many of us will be having for dinner the next few days. I love leftovers, maybe even more than the Thanksgiving dinner itself. So today I thought I'd serve up some leftovers from a previous blog. A couple weeks ago I mentioned that during my two plus years working at Andalusia I've become more keenly aware of how death is the engine of life and that all of us - whether we care to admit it or not - are dependent upon the death of another creature for our existence. This pertains as much to the life of the spirit as to our physical lives. As Craig once told a group visiting the farm, in Flannery O'Connor's novels and stories there is no redemption without violence (think of the grandmother in A Good Man Is Hard to Find or Ruby Turpin in Revelation). I would take that even further and assert that in O'Connor's fiction there is no life without death, even if it is a metaphoric dying to self and rising to new life. Again, think of Ruby Turpin or O.E. Parker in Parker's Back where, at the end of the story, the title character is splayed cruciform on a pecan tree. Now this blog is not the place for literary criticism or theological musings. My purpose here is simply to evoke a sense of life as it is presently being lived at Andalusia and as it was, as they say, "back in the day." However, as a Catholic thoroughly steeped in the Christian narrative and from what she observed almost daily on the farm, Flannery O'Connor had an acute awareness of the dependency of life upon death, and this is certainly reflected in her art.
- Mark

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gobblers' Grove

To get you in the spirit things, I thought I'd post a picture Craig took out here several years ago. Sights like this are not uncommon at Andalusia during the late fall. Turkeys must know that they are safe on our front lawn. If I were a turkey, this is where I'd want to be, too. Lots of acorns on the ground and not a hunter in sight. Whether you're having turkey or tofu, we wish you and those you love a fabulous Thanksgiving feast.
- Mark

Friday, November 11, 2011

Such Sights Colder

Just when I thought the fall couldn't get any prettier, my drive into work today from Macon was simply breathtaking. The burnished beauty of the Georgia woods in early-mid November is something to behold. Most people justifiably marvel at the beauty of springtime in the midstate, but I happen to think that fall is our prettiest time of the year. As I neared the farm with the sun shining off the hickories, maples, and tulip poplars, I thought of Gerard Manley Hopkins' elegiac poem, Spring and Fall. Hopkins, by the way, was one of Flannery's favorite poets, and she no doubt resonated with this verse as she looked out her bedroom window:

"Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Alas, amidst the beauty that surrounds us here, life on this farm is a constant reminder of death. In the short time I've been at Andalusia I've become more keenly aware how death is the engine of life. All creatures, ourselves included, are dependent upon the death of another, for our survival (even if we're vegans). Last week, we lost one of our guineas to a hungry fox or a coyote. The night before last the same fate befell another hen. We are down to three birds now and are doing what we can to keep them safe. Admittedly, our options are limited.
- Mark

Friday, November 4, 2011

They're Back!

Redline Express, one of the hottest bluegrass bands in this area, will again be performing tomorrow at Andalusia from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Pack a picnic basket, bring a lawn chair, and come on out and enjoy some fantastic music. Don't want all the fuss? No problem. Hamburgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill will be available for a small charge. For those who want to soak up a little literary culture, the main house will be open and, prior to the concert, there will be a guided tour of the nature trail at 4:00 led by environmentalist Louis Kaduk. This is the seventh year we have hosted a bluegrass concert at Andalusia, and it remains one of our most popular fundraising events. If you are in the area - or even if you're not - I hope you'll think about coming out for a toe-tapping good time. At the same time you'll be supporting the restoration and preservation work we're doing here at the farm.
- Mark