Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Good Ole Southern Road Trip

I just got back home after nearly two weeks at the beach and I have to say that I have missed blogging. It's growing on me. A long stint at the beach is a hard life, I admit, but it was for the purpose of eliminating all distractions (read: internet connectivity) and to get some quality writing done on my dissertation. I returned home happily, having accomplished a lot, including my first real tan in about 10 years! I also did a good bit of pleasure reading, finishing The Shadow of the Wind, the new Harry Potter book and making a nice dent in Maya Angelou's Heart of a Woman. Reviews are in the works.

In the meantime, the clock has been ticking away--the Southern Reading Challenge Sense of Place Contest ends today! My husband and I are trying so hard to create our own sense of place, having made a offer on this lovely house this past weekend. Doesn't seem like this one will work out, but who knows. It does look really homey, though, doesn't it? I can picture some comfy rockers on the front porch, maybe some ferns hanging from above... If not this one, maybe something else (and even better!) will come along.

Flannery O'Connor had a beautiful homeplace on her farm, Andalusia. Her room, where she wrote the majority of her works, was in the front left corner of the country plantation below. The tree-lined dirt road leads up to the front door. Her peacocks roamed the grounds at will, harassing visitors and feasting on her flowers. There are no longer any peacocks on the grounds, but it's not difficult to imagine them.

So, here's my sense of place entry. Not really fair of me to use so many pictures, but I had fun with this! Great idea, Maggie!

These excerpts from "A Good Man is Hard to Find" remind me of driving up the old dirt road to O'Connor's home. I like to think that one can at least partially experience the sense of place that she creates here when visiting Andalusia.

The grandmother didn't want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey's mind. Bailey was the son she lived with, her only boy. [...]

The next morning the grandmother was the first one in the car, ready to go. She had her big black valise that looked like the head of a hippopotamus in one corner, and underneath, she was hiding a basket with Pitty Sing, the cat, in it. She didn't intend for the cat to be left alone in the house for three days because he would miss her too much and she was afraid he might brush against one of the gas burners and accidentally asphyxiate himself. Her son, Bailey didn't like to arrive at a motel with a cat. [...]

She said that it was going to be a good day for driving [...]. She pointed out interesting details of the scenery: Stone Mountain; the blue granite that in some places came up to both sides of the highway; the brilliant red clay banks slightly streaked with purple; and the various crops that made rows of green lace-work on the ground. [...]

The grandmother took cat naps and woke up every few minutes with her own snoring. Outside of Toombsboro she woke up and recalled an old plantation that she had visited in this neighborhood once when she was a young lady. She said the house had six white columns across the front and that there was an avenue of oaks leading up to it [...].

They turned onto the dirt road and the car raced roughly
along in a swirl of pink dust. The grandmother recalled the times when there were no paved roads and thirty miles was a day's journey.


Literary Feline said...

I am glad your trip to the beach was so fruitful! Work and play. :-) Hubby and I are hoping to go on a real vacation next year which will take me away from my computer. I wonder how I'll do . . . Haha

I love your Sense of Place entry! The photos are perfect and the passages very fitting.

Kelly said...

Thank you, literary feline! I really appreciated your entry, as well.

And for some reason, mixing work and play was just the right concoction for me this summer. It's great to reward yourself with a walk on the beach after a long day of writing. But it did feel a bit weird at first not having internet access--I mean serious withdrawals! But you can do it!