This was it. This was the day we’d been imagining for so long.
|Photo: Karen Pieh Mahoney|
We’d traveled all this way, saved all those pennies, convinced our families it was worth it for us to be gone for a while…all for this.
Some might think us a little mad, yet if given a chance, most anyone would travel to where a hero found her voice. That’s all this has been — a chance to feel the spirit of one whose spirit has moved us.
And yet it’s been a little more than that as well. It’s been a journey of connecting, discovering and even of healing.
I’ve long thought green to be a healing color. Today, we got plenty of it. This was our very first glimpse of Andalusia Farm.
Well, after this anyway.
We’d breezed past this sign on our way into town the other day, and for a day beyond that, held the visual in our heads and hearts, wondering what it would be like for real.
Though the house attracted us — the elusive place where Flannery strung so many interesting sentences together — we seemed drawn by an invisible force to the grounds surrounding her old home. Early to arrive, we were the only visitors for most of the duration, and I can’t imagine a gentler, more appropriate introduction to the place we’d seen only in pictures and dreams before now.
Soon, we’d bumped into the home out back that had been residence to Flannery’s and Regina’s (her mother’s) hired help, Louise, Jack and “Shot.”
We couldn’t believe how accessible everything was. A few spots were marked off as the furthest point we could go, but mostly we were free to roam.
Signs let us know how to behave and that was just fine by us.
As we found our way to the back of that outlying house, we discovered a little slice of heaven. Flannery always did call Andalusia a bird sanctuary, and as we learned, it most certainly was, and still is.
You won’t regret stopping here just a moment or two and listening…
I’ve always loved birds but in the past couple years I’ve become even more enamored with them. My father pointed them out often, and in his passing, I was left with the realization of just what gifts they are to us.
Healing green. Healing birdsong. Healing stroll through hallowed ground in the company of beautiful companions.
Eventually, we found our way to what is something of a main attraction. At first, we heard him calling through the grounds in that haunting voice that echoed from tree limb to tree limb. I remember the sound from childhood when we’d visit the Dakota Zoo in Bismarck and the peacocks that wandered the grounds would “yell” to us. That was the sound.
And there they were.
Flannery’s special “pets.” At one time, there were as many as 50 on the grounds. Now, there are just three — the male, “Manley Pointer,” and his two lady friends.
|Photo: Karen Pieh Mahoney|
I found the females beautiful too…
But Manley insisted on center stage.
When we first strolled up he was fanned out. The tour guide later told us he tends to do this in clockwork fashion, straight up at 10. We’d arrived at 10 but had missed the climactic moment, apparently.
But he was not quite done showing off. Soon, he was jumping up on a beam, giving us his best poses.
This is one of my favorites; Manley and Christina, posing together.
Ha! And showing off his sexy legs!
The birds seemed to like us. We had a connection. We were gentle with them, respectful, and in turn, they engaged and let us get some close-ups we had not anticipated possible.
It was as if Flannery herself were there with us, thrilled to show us her birds. “Aren’t they beautiful?” “Yes, Flannery, they are.”
It would only seem right that during our stop at the little gift shop later, I’d pick up a handful of peacock feathers for souvenirs for the kids.
There they are, just around the corner from St. Therese in that vase, which is just above “The Habit of Being” I’ve been talking so much about. Yep, that’s right. Signs of Flannery were all over this place, and we were eating it up like kids in a candy store.
We downloaded hundreds of photos today so I have to pace myself, but let this be a preview of coming attractions. There is more to come and it will be worth a return visit.
It’s been another beautiful day in Milledgeville. My cup is overflowing and I hope to bring back some of this abundance to my loved ones back home soon. But for now the adventure is still unfolding. Hurray!
Q4U: What heals you?