Thomasville, Georgia sits at the heart of the plantation region of the southwestern part of the state about 30 miles north of Tallahassee, Florida. Vast single family plantations fill the landscape for perhaps 50 miles in every direction, plantations dedicated to the preservation of the land and its abundant wildlife, yet also dedicated to hunting (quail in particular). These historic pieces of land range from 7,500 acres for the smaller properties to 40,000 acres for the larger holdings. This past week during the 24th annual Thomasville Antiques Show I was the very happy guest of one of the wonderful local families who have long supported this antiques show, this gracious Victorian town and this remarkable way of life which has brought the great families of America to annually take up residence for a few months, hunt, party, attend various arts events and simply spend quality time with their families and friends. Now many have settled into a semi-permanent residency with perhaps some escape during the humid summer months.
I took two photos of a painting in the dining room, painted about 1994 by an artist I failed to annotate–sorry! What is so interesting is it shows the landscape of towering pines with low ground cover for the quail families to hide and forage. The hunt wagon is pulled by a mule or horse in a tradition dating back over one and a half centuries. On the wagon are the dog care team with the pointers in particular caged on the wagon bed until the point of the hunt is reached. Two dogs have gone on point. The hunters are a short distance behind them–with guns. The men on horseback to the right foreground are the guides who know every inch of these thousands of acres! A retriever is sitting on the wagon seat–one of several that will retrieve the birds once they have been shot. So there is a tidy division of labor among the hunting dogs–pointers and retrievers. For three months every year this hunting scene is recreated hundreds of times across hundreds of thousands of acres as it has been since the middle of the 19th century.
A second full photo:
The next photo is fun because it recounts the creation of the painting from the sketch to finished piece.
And here I am being served breakfast while looking across the beautiful landscape from the breakfast area of the dining room!