Thursday, May 6, 2010
On the Trail of the Novelist. Part II
My visit to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's home at Cross Creek, in Florida, was a highlight of our recent holiday. After a long drive, in and out of sudden drenching rain showers, we came quite unexpectedly upon the grounds, hidden away on a heavily forested road.
The property is part of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park and although well-kept, the surroundings are very natural. Three people were sitting quietly fishing in the creek beyond a plank dock. At the gate, a tour bus was loading passengers, ready to leave.
Although we arrived on a day when the house itself was closed to the public, the very amiable guide welcomed us onto the grounds and told us the things we would be able to see. He even encouraged us to peek though the windows of Rawlings's house.
It seemed as if every time we had a question, he appeared, crossing our path to feed rose petals to the baby ducklings or to rake out the chicken coop. The heart of Rawlings's farm was her citrus grove, and there are still a few orange trees around. Besides her large Cracker-style house, there is also a barn, a kitchen garden, a tenant house, and a yellow, 1940 Oldsmobile parked in the breezeway.
I was fascinated to see Rawlings's typewriter on the table in her screened-in front porch. This was where she wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Yearling. The heavy vegetation -- lush trees draped with Spanish moss, orange trees and palms -- was varied and I took several pictures before I left. There was an atmosphere of tranquility about the place. I came away feeling very calm and more connected to the author than ever.