Whenever I think of Connemara, I can't even remember how I learned of it in the first place, or how it was I wanted to go so badly. Perhaps it was a new career with the National Park Service, and the hours I spent poring over the map of all the park sites in the United States. Perhaps it was by way of being an English and History major in school. Perhaps it was "The Poet and the Dream Girl."
You will come one day in a waver of love,
Tender as dew, impetuous as rain,
The tan of the sun will be on your skin,
The purr of the breeze in your murmuring speech,
You will pose with a hill-flower grace.
You will come, with your slim, expressive arms,
A poise of the head no sculptor has caught
And nuances spoken with shoulder and neck,
Your face in a pass-and-repass of moods
As many as skies in delicate changed
Of cloud and blue and flimmering sun.
You may not come, O girl of a dream,
We may but pass as the world goes by
And take from a look of eyes into eyes,
A film of hope and a memoried day.
~ CARL SANDBURG
Yet...Carl's dream girl did come, in the form of Lilian Steichen, affectionately referred to as "Paula" by Carl. They retired to a farm in Flat Rock, NC - once the home of the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury. He had named his home "Rock Hill." The later Smythe owner dubbed it "Connemara" in honor of his Irish ancestry. The Sandburgs kept the name, and quipped that they owned "a million acres of sky."
Dad and I visited the site the first time in the 90's, and I've been back many times. I certainly feel a kinship with someone who owned 14,000 books. The black and white photography of Lilian's brother Edward Steichen, famed photographer of his day, also taught me to look at the world with a photographer's eye. That was an added bonus of the trip.
The Sandburgs kept books in their dining room, as well as binoculars to watch the birds that came to the feeders on the large picture windows.
Mrs. Sandburg raised award-winning goats. Descendants of the herd still live on the property, and I am proud to have off-spring from these goats as my own.