Friday, January 22, 2016

Manley Pointer II: The Prince of the King of the Birds

I had forgotten to commemorate the occasion properly at the first of the month, but it’s been right at a year since we held our first peacock funeral, very nicely summed up here by Kay Powell for the Bitter Southerner.  It was rainy last January, too, and likely as cold.  Fresh off the first Sunday of my tenure as interim choir director for the First United Methodist Church, I led a rather rainy, squishy processional to the burial site and was deeply unprepared for the challenges in walking and singing while being out of shape.  Nevertheless, I was pleased that those in attendance were familiar with the first two verses and refrain of “I’ll Fly Away.”  Even the cadre of collegians from Mercer who braved the unfortunate weather were undaunted by the ways of their cousins from down the hill in Milledgeville. It was indeed a situation right out of an O’Connor story, and I wager she’d have had a chuckle or two at us had she been in attendance.

Since then, Manley Pointer II has taken up the place of his namesake and is proving to be as big of a hit with our guests. Manley II is young yet; I’ve seen him doing laps around the aviary, and I know now how the assessment of Flannery’s visitor so many years ago came about: “I bet that rascal could outrun a bus.” Joy/Hulga, older and no doubt well-versed in the ways of aviary life, tends to give him sidelong looks and is no doubt bemused at the ways of her new companion.  He has opened his tail once while I’ve been on duty at the farm; the feathers are short and his strut is a bit too exuberant to be called such. But the sight is remarkable nevertheless—no doubt practice for Spring and a new crop of feathers.

The prideful ways of the peacock are a frequent topic in Flannery’s prose, but I believe that the pride of a peacock is in equal share a projection of our pride and self-assurance onto the bird putting itself on display in its strut.  I think here of Father Flynn in “The Displaced Person,” who is so deeply in thrall to the display of feathers that divinity is made anew each time he sees them, when he clearly has a decent grasp of God’s nature if his discussions with the troubled Mrs. McIntyre are any indication. We relish the peacock’s confidence, even moreso if it’s a display by one so young and brash. In that spirit we at the farm are proud indeed of Manley II, and for the growth yet to come for him and for Andalusia in 2016.

Daniel Wilkinson is a Visitor Services Assistant, Man-About-Town, and Bon Vivant at Andalusia. He is no longer choir director at First United Methodist Church, but has his baton at the ready if duty calls once more.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

New in 2016

Happy New Year to all of you from the staff at Andalusia. We’ve got all manner of new things on tap for 2016, some of which were in the most recent newsletter, which you can get by subscribing via the contact form at the bottom of the landing page for 2015 was a banner year indeed, and more is to come in 2016.  

First of all, we’re pleased to welcome a new Visitor Services Manager, Ross Sheppard, to the fold after the promotion of April Carlson to Assistant Director.  Milledgeville needs to keep the young and talented within its confines, and Ross’s return from a sojourn in Athens is a sign that one can indeed go home again.  A promotion to Bon Vivant may well be in the cards if he proves himself after the several years of training requisite of the position.  

Not as recent of an arrival but equally as exciting is that of Manley Pointer II, our new peacock in the aviary.  Almost exactly a year ago, Manley I succumbed to “January’s arctic blast,” as put by Kay Powell for the Bitter Southerner. Manley II is still a young fellow; those tailfeathers aren’t yet at their full complement. He will strut occasionally, no doubt practicing for springtime.  He joins Joy/Hulga, who is no doubt delighted to have some company.  

In terms of non-living additions, a new program space is in the backyard. The Nail House Deck now occupies the location of the storage building behind the house.  Long a casualty of a fallen tree, the Nail House gave way in the Fall to a proper outdoor stage that will no doubt be well-used when warm weather returns. Keep a sharp eye on our social media pages for these events in the coming months.

During the cooler months, however, the programming remains inside with the February Four Lecture Series. This year’s set will discuss Wise Blood during every Sunday afternoon in February and comes on the heels of last year’s very well-attended series. Those who were unable to attend in person did so in spirit via the podcast, and they will have that same chance this year.  These lectures are no doubt a good excuse to give another look at the novel, one that I haven’t revisited as often as I should have over the years.  So too, if you’ve not seen the film version of Wise Blood, copies of it are on offer here in the gift shop.  The film has grown on me over the years, as Brad Dourif’s image is the one that comes to mind when I think of Hazel Motes.  I am further fascinated by Macon as it looked in the early 1970s; one can actually rent out Haze’s apartment to this day in a house not far from Mercer University. 

There’s much to anticipate in the coming year.  Meeting all the Andalusia “pilgrims” as I like to call them remains a delight each time I come to the farm, and as much as we offer in programming, I find that the visitors keep this place fresh for me.  Even if I have to do a little “mission work” as far as Flannery’s fiction goes, welcoming these folks to the farm and to Milledgeville is the central delight that the special programs help to bring about. Thus, Happy New Year, and I’ll see you shortly out here on the farm. 

 Daniel Wilkinson is a Visitor Services Assistant and Bon Vivant at Andalusia Farm.  When not greeting visitors and consulting with peafowl on the important issues of the day, he can be found with still more museum visitors at the Old Capital Museum and Brown-Stetson-Sanford House.