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...
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The Rawlings park is preserved in memory of the times, life and work of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. She came to rural Cross Creek in 1928 to find a home closer to the land and a place to write. “I do not know how any one can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to,” she later wrote in Cross Creek. She found place for herself on her small Florida farmstead and orange grove, and in the nearby wilderness bordered by lakes and connected by a small creek. Her experiences were woven into the classic stories that continue to inspire others to live in harmony with the land. Rawlings historic Cracker farmhouse has her original furnishings and is preserved and interpreted by the staff, clad in 1930s clothing.
Near the house are ornamental plants of the varieties Rawlings cultivated and a seasonal kitchen garden with herbs, flowers and vegetables. A citrus grove of orange, grapefruit and tangerine trees surrounds the house. At the edge of the farm yard is the tenant house, a reminder of the many who worked the land and whose stories she told. In the magic of the grove, Rawlings found her greatest pleasure: “Enchantment lies in different things for each of us. For me, it is this: to step out the bright sunlight into the shade of the orange trees; to walk under the arched canopy of their jade-like leaves; to see the long aisles of lichened trunks stretch ahead in a geometric rhythm; to feel the mystery of a seclusion that yet has shafts of light striking through it. This is the essence of an ancient and secret magic.”
From her earliest years at Cross Creek, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings came to understand both the importance of the land and of the people who helped sustain it. In The Yearling and South Moon Under (among other books), the lives of the Cracker folk she met near home and in the Ocala Scrub are told. Cross Creek, among other works, begins to tell more about her contact with black Americans, including Martha Mickens and Idella Parker. The land was tremendously important to her. She concludes “Cross Creek belongs to the wind and the rain, to the sun and the seasons, to the cosmic secrecy of seed, and beyond all, to time.”