Cross Creek

There is of course an affinity between people and places. … the
consciousness of land and water must lie deeper in the core of us than any
knowledge of our fellow beings. We were bred of earth before we were born of
our mothers. Once born, we can live without mother or father, or any other
kind, or any friend, or any human love. We cannot live without the earth or
apart from it, and something is shriveled in a man’s heart when he turns
away from it and concerns himself only with the affairs of me.

Traveling down canopy covered backroads in north central Florida I could see why Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings found her place here at Cross Creek. The song of birds, the flowering and fruiting trees, the sound of rain coming across the hamaca, and the whisper of wind in the palms and pines. The place got under my skin, like the red ticks that embedded beneath our clothing.

Cross Creek has traveled home with me. When I hear the cardinals calling from the trees I think of their song in her citrus grove. When I lie in bed in the early mornings with the windows wide open I think of her bed on the screened-in front porch just a few feet away from her typewriter and writing table. As I spread leaf mould on the raised beds I recall how she dug leaf mould from hammocks to enrich her roses, camellias and gardenias. The magnolias are blooming here now. She describes how to carefully collect them and place them in jars of warm water where "they open in the house as on the tree, the cupped buds bursting open suddenly, the full-blown flowers shedding the red-tipped stamens in a shower, so that in a quiet room you hear them sifting onto the table top."

Rawlings lived at Cross Creek for thirteen years. It was where she felt she finally came home. But she admits she did not own it. The "red-birds" did. And the land belonged to the "wind and the rain, to the sun and the seasons, to the cosmic secrecy of seed, and beyond all, to time."


Garden Blogger's Bloom Day Delight

Travels in Florida continue after a deluge night before last and yesterday that brought down buckets of tropical rain with lightning and thunder for hours and hours.
Today's weather is as bright and clear as the moon that shone in the tent window at 2:30 this morning. Perfect. Off to the Old Florida Highway (Route 441). Picked up a copy of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ Cross Creek to read along the way. Discovered this lovely iris blooming in Micanopy on the way to Rawlings' homestead. So many flowers growing in the wild down here are white.

More birds to identify when given some time and good bird identification resources. Same with the flowers.

Tomorrow heading south down canopy covered backroads and see where our travels lead us. Saturated with the beauty of this country. Can see why Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings found her place here. The song of birds, the flowering and fruiting trees, the sound of rain coming across the hamaca, and the sound of wind in the palms and pines.


Wild Things

Living on the edge of the wild down here in Florida and loving it. So many unusual plants and a wide variety of wildlife. Seeing more flora here that I ever have. Went down the 7 mile Juniper Creek run - 4 1/2 hours in a big canoe with canopy, trees, alligators and mini rapids to navigate.

Saw 2 alligators, lots of turtles the size of large frying pans, birds I can't identify and the same with white blooming lilies. Some very exotic looking.

Lizards and salamanders are everywhere if you stay still long enough. And we had a young raccoon join us for breakfast this morning. Couldn't understand why we wouldn't share the bacon and you could almost see the tears running down his face.

Yesterday, Easter Sunday started with a bird solo at 4:30. By the time a sunrise service would have been under way we had the entire dawn chorus performing a fugue to rival any master composer.

A pair of cardinals come and sit at all times of the day on the picnic table benches with a zealous catbird never far behind. And last night around 9:00 we ran into a young bear who high-tailed it over to the tree line, turned around and planted himself on the ground. All we could see were two bright eyes reflected in the flashlight beam back at us. Think the poor thing had his head down on the ground between his front paws.

Enjoying cooking outdoors where food always seems to taste better. Sleeping can be fitful with rustling nighttime visitors of all kinds though. And after all we've seen it's enough to have you sleeping lighter than usual!


Florida Revisited

Retracing the trip I took in January with my daughters, only this time with my husband. We're headed back to the same National Forest with its precocious raccoons, the Florida black bear named Teddy, and old-time campground with private sites and ever-ready-to-lend-a-hand staff.

The road was familiar but with a fresh brush of green everywhere. And pansies blooming in incredible color ranges.

Meridian strips in central NC were planted with wildflowers – most stunning combination was a little airy lavender blossom mixed with the bright orange California poppy.

The dogwoods lined the sides of the highway from Virgina on south, their blossoms suspended on arching branches in the shade of tall pines. The bright purple blossoms of the Eastern Redbud trees were lovely too. And then there were the long racemes of wisteria draping heavily from treetops beside old barns and farm houses.

Setting up camp tomorrow with my husband. Many hours together in the car in our exodus from New England to subtropical forests in Florida. Hours (and I mean hours!) of time together between car travel and camping. And I'm looking forward to every minute of it.


Pelargonium 'Designer Dark Red' blooming behind variegated geranium.

Nasturtium 'Alaska' seedlings under lights.

Canna 'Bengal Tiger' coming back to life.

Surprise tiny Cactus blossom hidden on the back side of the cactus garden.

Opuntia shoot.

Brazen back porch visitor.


Garden Bloggers' Muse Day - April 2009

April, Remy Belleau
April, pride of woodland ways,
Of glad days,
April, bringing hope of prime,
To the young flowers that beneath
Their bud sheath
Are guarded in their tender time;

April, pride of fields that be
Green and free,
That in fashion glad and gay,
Stud with flowers red and blue,
Every hue,
Their jewelled spring array;

April, pride of murmuring
Winds of spring,
That beneath the winnowed air,
Trap with subtle nets and sweet
Flora's feet,
Flora's feet, the fleet and fair.

April, by thy hand caressed,
From her breast
Nature scatters everywhere
Handfuls of all sweet perfumes,
Buds and blooms,
Making faint the earth and air.

April, joy of the green hours,
Clothes with flowers
Over all her locks of gold
My sweet Lady; and her breast
With the blest
Birds of summer manifold.

Daffodil and eglantine
And woodbine,
Lily, violet, and rose
Plentiful in April fair,
to the air,
Their pretty petals do unclose.

Nay, but I will give my praise,
To these days,
Named with the glad name of Her
That from the foam o' the sea
Came to be
Sudden light on earth and air.