Friday, July 30, 2010

We did it!

Actually, you did it. Thanks to the many devoted followers of Flannery O'Connor who have visited Andalusia in the past year, last week we surpassed the previous record for visitations in a twelve month period. It is a considerable feat when you consider the sluggish economy and the scorching summer we're having. It is certainly a testament to the drawing power of Flannery O'Connor. With any luck we may reach 4,000 visitors before the fiscal year ends September 30th.

As alluded to above, this is one of the hottest summers in recent memory. Today and tomorrow we are under a heat advisory and are expecting to see temperatures over 100 degrees. If you are planning to visit us, please exercise some caution. While we would love for you to see as much of the property as you want to, we advise limiting the amount of time you spend outside. You are certainly welcome to linger in the main house which is air conditioned and where we have the refrigerator stocked with plenty of cold, bottled water. All this is to say, don't let a little hot weather deter you from visiting us.

- Mark

Friday, July 23, 2010

Who let the dogs out?

They say there are two kinds of persons in the world - cat people and dog people. Each of these types exhibits certain personality traits. What kind of person was Flannery O'Connor? Characteristically, neither. She was, instead, a bird person. From the time O'Connor was a little girl she raised ducks and chickens. She even sewed clothes for these birds and made up fanciful stories about them that she shared with her classmates at St. Vincent's Academy in Savannah. As she grew older, her flock became more diversified, most notably with the addition of peafowl that she started raising at Andalusia in 1953. Flannery was protective of her birds, too. In the summer of 1957 her friend Cecil Dawkins wanted to give her a dog. O'Connor wrote her back declining the kind offer: "You certainly are nice to want to give me that dog but I'll have to take the thought for the dog. I didn't tell you what I raise: I raise peacocks - and you can't keep dogs and peacocks on the same place. When people come to see us with a dog, we have to ask them to keep the dog in the car - else the peachickens will take to the trees and have nervous prostrations...So I adjust myself to their tastes, including being anti-dog." (Habit of Being p. 230)

Though the present day peafowl at Andalusia enjoy the safe confines of an aviary, we must be "anti-dog," too. Visitors are certainly welcome to bring their dogs out to the farm, but we ask that they keep them on a leash, not only for the protection of our guests, but for the animals' protection, too. If you bring a dog to Andalusia, we also ask that you don't leave your pet in the car, especially during these searing summer months. It's also not a good idea to leave your pet in the car with the motor running. There have been dogs left in idling cars here that have locked themselves in. Since we don't want a similar fate to happen to your pet, we ask that you observe our "leash law."
- Mark

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lilac of the South

One of the joys of living in middle Georgia is that no matter what season you're in something is always in bloom - even in winter when pansies and snap dragons provide much welcome color. In the summer, crape myrtles are bursting with white, raspberry, periwinkle, and pink blossoms. For those of you outside the deep south a crape myrtle is a multi-stemmed, large shrub that can grow as a tall as a tree. Indeed, the one in the front yard at Andalusia is about 25 ft. tall and is topped with frothy pink blossoms. Although no one knows whether our crape myrtle was around when Flannery lived at Andalusia, it is as refreshing to the eye on a hot summer day as a bowl of sherbet. Why not plan a trip to Andalusia this summer to see it? While you're here, check out some of the new (and not so new) titles that just arrived in the gift shop - Jean Cash's pioneering biography, Flannery O'Connor: A Life; Margaret Earley Whitt's study, Understanding Flannery O'Connor; Conversations with Flannery O'Connor, edited by Rosemary Magee; Hank Edmondson's Return to Good & Evil; and the travel book every bibliophile should have, Novel Destinations.
- Mark

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer Scorcher

With today's high expected to reach 100, it's going to be another summer scorcher in the midstate. Yet no matter how hot it gets in Milledgeville, the majestic oaks here at Andalusia Farm keep things fairly comfortable. I must say that in the year that I've been working here, the heat has never been unbearable. Granted we have two window air conditioning units in the house - a luxury the O'Connors did not enjoy until near the end of Flannery's life when one was acquired to make the author's final days a bit more bearable. This modern convenience is much appreciated by our visitors - and staff - during these sizzling days of July.

For those of you who may be travelling this summer, check out some of the new titles in our gift shop. While it may not be exactly beach reading, the latest edition of Shenandoah arrived this week. This, the 60th anniversary issue of the venerable literary magazine out of Washington & Lee University, is devoted entirely to Flannery O'Connor. The magazine features critical essays, short stories, poetry, photography, and other art work in tribute to O'Connor. Supplies are limited. If you would like a copy, please visit out gift shop, or call 478-454-4029. The cost of the journal is $15.00 plus tax.
- Mark