like that, fall has arrived. We returned from Sapelo Island where we spent the
last days of summer, to cool weather, leaves changing color and the smell of
autumn in the air. My thoughts instantly have turned from beaches to raking
leaves and other fall chores; luckily we’ve gotten a little bit of a head start
with our apple-picking trip last weekend.
visited Sky Top Orchard in North Carolina just as we’ve done every year we’ve
lived in Greenville with kids, and I hear the picking at Niven’s is good too,
although we’ll save that for choosing a pumpkin in mid-October. We returned
home with a bushel of apples, half Gala for eating and baking with, and the
rest giant Mutsus, of which 2/3rds have already been boiled, pressed and canned
into applesauce. I expected disaster without my mother here to help, but last year’s experience/lessons learned helped enormously and the afternoon passed
without incident. The first muscodine jelly attempt didn’t go quite as well,
but I can tell you that so far the cupboard is filling quickly with jelly, fig
preserves and that beautiful applesauce.
make the trip to North Carolina to pick apples, please make one other stop as
well. The orchard is a great fall activity with the fresh donuts, the hay
rides, all the kids activities and of course the apple picking, but we only
spend a few hours there. It was on a whim that we continued north on Greenville
Highway to Flat Rock and the Carl Sandburg Home Historic Site.
renowned poet, biographer, folk singer, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Carl
Sandburg spent the last twenty years of his life on a beautiful property in the
mountains of North Carolina. His wife Liliana had discovered the farm “Connemara”,
which was also called home by Christopher Memminger (biographer of Abraham
Lincoln and Secretary of the Confederate Treasury) and textile tycoon Ellison
Smyth. The Sandburgs moved from Michigan with three daughters, two
grandchildren, a library of over 14,000 books and the Chikaming goat herd, and
spent the next quarter-century running the farm in addition to Carl continuing
his writing. Mr. Sandburg died at home on July 22, 1967 after which the family
sold the property which today is preserved as the Carl Sandburg Home National
not choose to take the tour of the home (which still contains all the family's personal
effects), but instead stroll the grounds. The beautiful Front Lake was full of
frogs and fish, and the 0.3-mile trail to the main house led us over the dam,
through the woods and past the pasture and Margaret’s garden. We circled around
back of the Main House (which also houses the visitor center) to see the rock
outcrop which was Carl Sandburg’s favorite outdoor writing spot.
trails (several lead all the way to Glassy Mountain), a visitor center, various
annual activities, guided house tours as well as self-guided tours, there is
much to do*. We especially enjoyed the goat farm, which is no longer a
commercially run dairy but has descendants of Lilian’s original herd. I was
told spring is especially exciting on the farm, as that is when the kids are born. After feeding the goats and exploring the barn we set off back to the
car, passing all the other historic structures on our way out. Our visit was
short, but it was enough to experience the beauty of Connemara and convince us
a return trip is in order.
The sun on the hills is
beautiful, Or a captured sunset sea-flung, Bannered with fire and gold. (Carl
*There is a Junior Ranger program at the National Historic Site, but it is more suited for children a little older than my boys.