A Writer’s Grave, Turtle ICU and the Year that Was

December 28, 2011

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I can’t believe another year has come and gone! One of the fun things about blogging is you can look back on the year and see what you’ve accomplished, where you’ve been, and what you’ve learned. Although I didn’t travel as much this year, I still had amazing experiences.  Here are a few of my favorites:

No. 1:  Cross Creek, home of Pulitzer Prize winning author, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings…

with a visit to her gravesite.

 

No. 2:  Turtle ICU at the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet

No. 3:  Gander Mountain Firearms Academy, in Lake Mary

No. 4:  Dinner at the top-notch Blue restaurant in Flagler Beach.

No. 5:  Deep Sea Fishing out of New Smyrna Beach

I finally tried a Florida avocado, made a Clove Orange, devoured a champagne truffle and tasted the best Muffaleta sandwich ever.  I learned about armadillos, LandLubber grasshoppers, and Herculean trees.

And I’m not through with Florida yet.

Advertisements

Cross Creek

February 23, 2011

It is necessary to leave the impersonal highway, to step inside the rusty gate and close it behind.  One is now inside the orange grove, out of one world and in the mysterious heart of another.  And after long years of spiritual homelessness, of nostalgia,  here is that mystic loveliness of childhood again. Here is home.
–Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Cross Creek, 1942–

Sign at the entrance to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park, Cross Creek

I’ve often thought those who visit the graves of people they have never met to be a bit odd, maybe even morbid. Now I have to question whether I myself fit that description after my adventures this past weekend. 

But let me start at the beginning. For years I have wanted to visit Cross Creek, the home of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of The Yearling.  The sheer knowledge that Rawlings moved from New York to the backwoods of Florida, maintained an orange grove and lived off the land, while writing full-time, inspires me like few others have.  

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park (Cross Creek, FL)

Once inside the gate, I wandered around for an hour or so before the house tour began. The  tour group consisted of approximately ten people and I quickly learned that I was the only one, besides our tour guide, who had actually read Rawlings account of her life at Cross Creek. 

The tour guide then asked the group what prize Rawlings had won for her book The Yearling.  I knew the answer, which of course is the Pulitizer Prize, but kept quiet so someone else could show off their knowledge. No one said a word. For a brief moment I began to wonder why exactly these people were here if they knew nothing of the history of the place and the history of the author.  Just as quickly though, I  got over myself and moved on, wrapped up in the stories of life at Cross Creek.

The front porch is where Rawlings did most of her writing, including for The Yearling.

Rawlings also entertained quite often at Cross Creek, including serving dinner in this dining room to such guests as poet Robert Frost.

In her book Cross Creek, Rawlings details many of her cooking adventures on the old wood burning stove. One day she saw blackbirds and, remembering the line “4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie” from a nursery rhyme, she shot down the birds and secretly took them home to bake in a pie.

 

Antioch Cemetery

Now, for the odd, and possibly morbid part.  While waiting for the house tour to start, I perused through scrapbooks that had been left out for visitors.  I came across an untitled paragraph which contained directions to the cemetery where Rawlings is buried.  Before I knew what was happening, I was writing down the instructions in my notebook. When the house tour ended, I took out my notebook, turned to the page with the directions to Antioch Cemetery, and was on my way. 

Miraculously I was able to follow the directions and soon arrived at the cemetery out in the middle of practically nowhere. A peaceful place, on a dirt road, wide open to the sun and blue sky. Perfect.

As directed, I parked on the side of the road, got out and entered the second gate. I walked toward the utility shed, then turned left. The directions in the old scrapbook said I should look for the flat slab about four rows in. Well, I did just that, but with no success. So I began walking up and down rows 1-5, just in case I had missed something. Still no success.  I stopped and stared out across the field. As I shielded my eyes from the sun overhead, two flat slabs, a few rows ahead and to the right of me, came into view. One had three deer sculptures resting at its head. That’s when The Yearling came to mind. I walked over, and was rewarded (if that is truly what you call such a find). There lay Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, with her husband Norton Baskin at her side.

Norton and Marjorie

And on her grave, I read the following:

MARJORIE KINNAN RAWLINGS
1896-1953
Wife of  Norton Baskin

THROUGH HER WRITINGS SHE ENDEARED
HERSELF TO THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD

Indeed she did.