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."
Posted by Ann D. Travers at 8:50 AM