Thursday, March 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Flannery!

As readers of this blog may know, today would have been Flannery O'Connor's 85th birthday. To mark the occasion the mayor of Milledgeville, Richard Bentley, came out to Andalusia this morning to read a proclamation declaring March 25th Flannery O'Connor Day in Milledgeville. Also on hand were members of the Flannery O'Connor-Andalusia Board of Directors, dignitaries, and other selected guests. Following the mayoral proclamation, there was a small reception in the O'Connors' kitchen where guests enjoyed a special peacock birthday cake. If you're in the area, come on by and have a piece of cake with us to celebrate the birth of one of the truly great authors of all time. ...Mark

Friday, March 19, 2010

Strike Up the Band

Many visitors to Andalusia ask about the record player in Flannery O'Connor's room. We're asked, too, what kind of music Flannery liked. Though the writer often claimed to have a tin ear and had a terrible time learning how to play the piano when she was younger, she nevertheless had fairly sophisticated musical tastes. Her album collection includes recordings of Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, and Stravinsky that were given to her by Thomas Stritch. Everything outside the classical repertoire, she claimed, sounded like the Beatles. Apparently her birds had similar tastes. Flannery claimed that when she was listening to music the peafowl outside her bedroom window would sometimes join the chorus. The phonograph was a gift to her from the sisters at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Free Cancer Home in Atlanta. According to a letter to Stritch (Habit of Being p. 562), someone had apparently given the nuns a new record player for Christmas and so they decided to send their old one to Flannery. O'Connor enjoyed a close relationship with the sisters at the cancer home. From the time she helped them get their book, A Memoir of Mary Ann, published they expressed their love and gratitude by occasionally sending Flannery gifts. Among these is an inscribed crucifix presently hanging on the wall above Flannery's bedside table.

Big doings at Andalusia next week. Next Thursday, on what would have been O'Connor's 85th birthday, the mayor of Milledgeville and other dignitaries will be on hand to proclaim March 25th "Flannery O'Connor Day." If you're in the area come on out and help us celebrate the birth of our favorite writer. We'll even have peacock birthday cake to mark the occasion!


Friday, March 12, 2010

The Twentieth Century's Blake

Many visitors to Andalusia are surprised to learn that in addition to raising exotic birds, Flannery O'Connor also enjoyed painting. During the time that the O'Connor's lived here, many of Flannery's paintings adorned the walls. We all know what a great literary talent Flannery O'Connor possessed, but she was also a gifted visual artist. Like a twentieth-century William Blake, O'Connor's creativity could not be contained by only one medium. The natural beauty of Andalusia ignited her artistic imagination. In a letter from fifty years ago to her friend Maryat Lee, O'Connor describes the frustration of being sick in bed and not being able to get up to do a painting of the gently falling snow outside her window. "Today it is snowing here & were I not confined to my bed taking two-toned pills I would be painting a snow scene. This would be appropriate as I have this large tube of white and snow is white. On this truth, I will leave you." (Habit of Being p. 378)

March in Georgia can be a mixed bag. While it may have been snowing on that Friday half a century ago, today it is warm enough to be in shirtsleeves. Rain is expected in the afternoon, however, so I must close and feed the peafowl before it pours.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Signs of Spring

Though nights are still chilly, signs of spring are appearing everywhere on the farm. The days are sunny, the daffodils are blooming, and many trees on the property are haloed with pink buds. Another sure sign of spring is the uptick in visitors to Andalusia. Last week more than 200 people came through the house and the calendar is quickly filling up with church groups, book clubs, and schools planning tours of the home of one of America's greatest writers. Spring is an especially pretty time of year at Andalusia and, with the 85th anniversary of Flannery O'Connor's birth coming up on March 25th, it would be a perfect time to visit the farm. Another inducement to get you out here is the appearance of acclaimed writer and naturalist, Jack Nesbit, who will offer a guided nature walk on Lower Tobler Creek Trail on Tuesday, March 30th, at 4:oo. This event is free and open to the public.