According to her biographer, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had two secret life time dreams: one was to win the Nobel Prize for literature and the other was to have a rose named after her. Silverthorne adds that although “neither of these dreams came true, they illuminate the things that were important to her.” This year, one of these dreams did come true when two Florida Southern College professors, rose creator Malcom Manners and literature professor Keith Huneycutt collaborated in the creation and naming of a new rose after Rawlings. It was planted at the park this spring with the help of local rose specialist Art Wade, who bred the rose and created a small garden at the gate of the park. It is small bushy rose, hardy and adapted to the Florida climate. It has a lovely, yet simple flat-petaled flower with a warm rosy color.
Now it is summer at the Creek. In many ways, it is a lively time. Everything is growing and spreading. The young chickens and ducks, born in the spring, explore the farmyard as the grass and grove stretch and grow. On the trees, the tiny green balls that will become oranges and grapefruit and tangerines grow bigger and bigger until visitors become aware that what thought were limes, are actually oranges. As autumn returns, the color will begin to show and visitors can better guess which kind of fruit is growing on the trees.
The summer heat can also slow things down. The garden of vegetables and flowers has died back by the end of summer and people are moving more slowly. By afternoon, the chickens will dig holes in the shade of the sandy yard and lie on their sides, so still that some visitors worry that they may have died. No, they are just resting. A walk through the grove to see the tenant house or into the woods on one of the park’s two trails can be a refreshing excursion. If we are lucky, a quick storm will pass by to clear and cool the air. However, everyone takes care to dress comfortably for the sand and hot weather.
Although she was born on August 8th, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ birthday celebration will be held on July 31st so all who attend will be able to take the guided walk through her home. Access to her home is suspended during the heat every August and September for maintenance and restoration work. The park grounds will remains open for exploration but each room of the house will dismantled, cleaned and painted as needed. The furnishings, art works, books and other objects are assessed, cleaned and cared for – and repaired as needed. Much of the work done could not be accomplished while tours are going through the home.
Finally, you must be told! There are big plans being made for next year. The 75th anniversary of the publication of Rawlings’ Cross Creek and Cross Creek Cookery will occur in 2017. Some of the events being planned include an exhibit and a play, a plein-air art event, readings, programs on the environment and critters featured in the books - and lots of cooking. Some of the events will be occurring at the park and some in nearby communities as they participate in the celebrations with us. All will be listed here as they become finalized.
Come back into the past and visit us at Cross Creek. Relax, take a deep breath and explore an old farm and some history you can go home and read about. We look forward to seeing you.