Cranes, roosters, snakes and an antique yellow Olds! These are among the attractions (or distractions) in Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park, the home of the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Yearling, made into a movie by the same title.
In late September, we visited the home of Rawlings, best known for her sensational novel, The Yearling (1938). She also wrote a combination memoir & writing guide titled Cross Creek (1942) which immortalizes her life among the hard-scrabble Florida “crackers,” settlers who loved the land and made their living on it, though barely. The blurb for her memoir declares:
For many years Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was the leading citizen of the tiny, remote Florida Hamlet of Cross Creek. Her intimate and vivid narrative of the people, scenery, and wild-life of the Florida back-country has all the humor and the boundless human appeal of her Pulitzer prize-winning novel. Her genius for character portrayal and description is unequalled and so recognizable.
We hiked a trail, we spoke to volunteers cleaning the house, we took pictures, steeping ourselves in 1930s rural life in a tiny community not far from Gainesville and the University of Florida. Here is my six-point invitation to visit Rawlings’ home, literally a time-capsule of the 1930s.
1. Explore a state park and walk the short trails.
2. Appreciate wild life, cranes, and botanicals, including citrus.
Actually, we didn’t see any snakes on our visit!
3. Take a hike on the trails, find wisdom on the signposts along the way.
4. Step inside Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ house.
5. Imagine eating at Marjorie’s table in her dining room.
According to Christian Science Monitor, her singular admitted vanity was cooking. She said, “I get as much satisfaction from preparing a perfect dinner for a few good friends as from turning out a perfect paragraph in my writing.” (quoted in Wikipedia)
My own dish made with a recipe from her cookbook
6. Leave the hectic world behind, visit a peaceful place.
I loved reading her memoir: Strolling through the park felt like turning the pages in her book!
We also visited our two oldest grandsons, freshmen at the University of Florida, home of the Gators, just 25 miles away.
Are you familiar with Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings writings? Did you read The Yearling or Cross Creek?
Have you visited the homes of other authors you’d recommend?
Where have you found enchantment?
Good morning, Marian! It looks like you had a lovely getaway! I’ll pass on that jellied cabbage dish.😏 It’s wonderful you got to see your grandsons, too.
I’ve been to Mark Twain’s House in Hartford, CT, and highly recommend seeing it, if you’re ever in that area. There’s also a museum. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house is next door, and it’s interesting, too, but his house is more interesting.
Daughter loved Hemingway’s house and grounds in Key West–and all the cats!
Good morning! I do remember seeing Mark Twain’s house in Hartford long ago. Maybe I have a photo of it somewhere. I don’t remember seeing Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house, but if it was next door, I probably have seen it too. Getaways are good, and we surely needed one. Thanks for being first in line again today! 😀
You’re very welcome, Marian!
You’re wise to pass on the jellied cabbage salad, Merril. My mother used to make it, and it was something to be missed.
🤣🤣 I’m not a fan of jellied anything–except actual jelly or jam.
Not loving the tomato aspic? *shudder*
A visit is on my bucket list but love, love, love Cross Creek book and the cookbook!
Jack, I sense your enthusiasm here. You appreciate history and I know you’d love the place, literally a time capsule of the 1930s. 😀
Oh my: my education has been neglected–never read The Yearling, or saw the movie, although I was certainly aware of it. Your visit sounds fascinating–didn’t know she lived as a Florida cracker for awhile! I heard that term and used it occasionally, I suppose. I need to get my hands on The Yearling! Nice post with traveling ideas.
Marjorie K. Rawlings was born in Washington D. C. and went to the University of Wisconsin, so she is definitely a northerner. However, after she visited the Cross Creek area, she fell in love and never left. Her books, including her cook book, say it all. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Melodie. 😀
Wow! What a great place to visit! I remember reading The Yearling back in elementary school. I didn’t know her home had been preserved! How perfect that you not only visited but came away with a cookbook.
Good for you, L. Marie. If you’ve read The Yearling, you definitely have a sense of the setting and Rawlings’ writing style. The Historic State Park doesn’t have a gift shop, unfortunately. I got both Cross Creek and the cookbook from my local library. 😀
Cross Creek is a special treasure. I’m relieved to see it doesn’t appear on the Storm Updates list of Florida state parks closed by Hurricane Ian. PS: Marjorie’s recipe for a horseradish aspic is very similar to one prepared by my late grandmother for holiday dinners in the 1960s. It was a favorite of the adults (but not the children) at the table. LOL!
Lynn, I believe you are a Floridian too and concerned about hurricane damage. Ian didn’t hit much of the middle of the state, so I hope your fared well too.
Marjorie like aspic and other jellied dishes, and many appear in her cookbook. She mentioned in the cookbook that she liked dishes she could make ahead, so she wouldn’t feel frazzled when her guests came: she enjoying visiting with them and not slaving away in the kitchen. Thanks for joining in here! 😀
Oh, Lynn, I just noticed you subscribed to my YouTube channel. Thank you!
Hi Marian, Faythe and I just returned from a ten day road trip to Pennsylvania where we meandered, and ate our way, through Amish Country…revisiting the places we used to go as kids…Roots and The Green Dragon, and Chocolate World was so much fun, probably similar to what you experienced on your trip to Marjorie Kinney Rawlings’ place.
I did notice some of your trip photos on Facebook, including Chocolate World. When we were kids, we could actually tour the factory, but that’s not allowed anymore.
You make the most of even tough situations as I know your reason for coming to Pennsylvania this time was not a pleasant one. I’m sure seeing childhood haunts and visiting places your mother knew and loved helped assuage your grief. Hugs to Faythe and a special treat to Bella. 😀
A delightful post and snapshot of the past…it sounds like a lovely getaway, Marian…I would pass on the jellied cabbage though 🙂
No one seems to like the jellied cabbage here, but it tasted good paired with a pork roast. . . a sweet and sour effect. Besides, I had shredded cabbage on hand.
Thanks for dropping in, Carol. 😀
It does sound good now you have explained how it is used., Marian.. You know I am going to have too try it now… Hehe… Thank you for sharing i’ll do my research… 😀
I’ve only read The Yearling and was not familiar with Cross Creek or any of Marjorie’s other work, though it seems like a fascinating place to visit. It’s fun to read her quotes and a place that must have been so dear to her. I’m glad my laundry isn’t hanging out on a clothesline—not because I’m a prude but rather my “wardrobe” isn’t very exciting.🤣
Well, Pete, I don’t think your wardrobe is from the 1930s, so it wouldn’t have vintage appeal – ha ha!
The Yearling brought Rawlings a Pulitzer Prize, but living in Cross Creek explains her inspiration. Originally from Washington, D. C., she fell in love with Florida land. 😀
With your choice of certain quotes and photos, you really captured the simplicity and nostalgia of Cross Creek (especially the lovely quote about the area belonging to the wind and rain…) As a writer, I’m sure you imagined sitting at her writing table, simply pondering. 🙂 What a great trip (including seeing grandsons) Marian. To answer your question, I had not even heard of the memoir Cross Creek, and now I want to read it.
I love when blog posts inspire writers to read. Rawlings’ writing style is wonderful and so expressive of a sense of place. As I read, I felt a “you-are-there” quality. Thanks for commenting here again, Melanie. 😀
How I have enjoyed reading about the nostalgia of Cross Creek and the wonderful story teller Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.I wish I’d taken a trip there when I visited Florida some long while back. I loved Florida and the amazing trip to the Everglades and the Tamiami Trail.Thank you Marian.
Joy, if you ever visit Florida again, you are welcome to be a guest in our home. I’m glad you have a sense of the setting and climate, even if you didn’t get to visit Rawlings’ home. Another trip would be a good reason to cross “the pond” to warm up in winter. Thanks for commenting here again. 😀
Marian — I enjoyed looking at the photographs you shared. Thank you for the virtual tour. And though I’ve read The Yearling, I haven’t read Cross Creek. But it’s on my to-read list now.
Rawlings’ prose is first-class, and as an author, you’d enjoy how well she develops a sense of place and time in Cross Creek. Whenever you yearn for palmettos, pines, and citrus, she’s the ticket. Thanks, Laurie! 😀
The Yearling was one of my all time favourite books growing up. I would love to visit the author’s home. Thanks for the tour and pictures. My other favourite book growing up was Anne of Green Gables and I recently visited her home in Prince Edward Island! I love visiting the place an author found inspiration.
I noticed, perhaps on Facebook and on your blog, you visited Prince Edward Island during your trip to Canada. I’d love to visit the home of Anne of Green Gables, which I imagine has architecture similar to what we see in the movie. Thanks for checking in, Darlene! 😀
It sounds fascinating and a lot of fun! Maybe one day I’ll return to the USA and explore a little bit more.
You are very welcome. If you return to the USA, I hope we can meet someday! 😉
Cross Creek was one place we didn’t visit when we lived in Florida. I wish we had. We visited Hemingway’s house in Key West on an oppresively hot day. I remember much discussion of cats and a demanding wife from the docent. My mother and I visited Louisa May Alcott’s home in Concord, Mass. A much more temperate experience.
I didn’t know you ever lived in Florida, but I think you now live in New Hampshire where the fall foliage must be lovely. Thanks for stopping by and commenting today, Liz. And best wishes with your Distant Flickers launch. As you know, I have snagged a copy! 😀
Yes, I lived in San Antonio, Florida from ’94-’97 when I served as St. Leo College’s Student Support Services Administrator for all of the extension campuses (primarily on military bases). My husband and I will be going on our annual leaf-peeping expedition on Saturday. Thank you for your support of the Distant Flickers launch. I hope you enjoy the stories.
Enjoy the pretty leaves. I can enjoy them now only in photos posted everywhere on social media. I know I’ll enjoy your story and other on Distant Flickers. 😀
I expect I’ll be posting a few on Instagram. The best of the best, of course . . . 😉
Thanks for taking me along< Marian. I love to visit author homes and dragged my children to lots of places. Willa Cather's childhood home near Winchester, Gene Stratton Porter's in Indiana, Laura Ingall Wilder's in Minnesota, and many more. I would love to visit Cross Creek. Perhaps on one of our winter trips to Florida . .
You’d enjoy it, Shirley! The limes and orange trees would be loaded with fruit if you visit in December or January. When I checked, guided tours were available only Thursday through Sunday, 4-5 times daily. You may need to register for a tour, but I think there is no charge, except for the park entrance fee. As you know, all this is subject to change: https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/marjorie-kinnan-rawlings-historic-state-park
Hi Marian, this really does look like a great place to visit. I have not read either of her books but I have always wanted to read The Yearling and this post has reminded me about it.
I know you have a long, long TBR list, but The Yearling may be a nice change from your usual fare. Thanks, Robbie!
This looks like such a wonderful getaway! I would love to visit the homes of authors. Okay, now I want to read The Yearling!
It’s so good to see you here, Christy. Checking your website, I see you have been busy, exploring relationships both through poetry and prose. Brava!
Yes, you’d enjoy both The Yearling and Cross Creek. Both deliver good characters and atmospheric settings. 😀
Oh, I remember reading that book from our school library! I loved it. Why have I never read her other books, I wonder. Writing and cooking are my favorite activities as well! Thanks for another lovely post, Marian!
You are welcome, Elfrieda. Until recently, I knew only of The Yearling. I don’t know what prompted my reading Cross Creek. Sometimes our library puts books on shelves near the checkout, just to catch our attention. Maybe that’s what happened.
I’ve come to the conclusion that writing and cooking go hand in hand. Usually, a dish can be created in a day, sometimes just hours. Writing takes longer. Nice balance!
The book I was referring to is The Yearling. I think I was learning English at about the same time-age 10. Funny how a certain book I’ve read brings other memories to mind!
If only Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings were alive to read this. She’d be thrilled knowing that her book was read by a young girl eagerly learning the complexities of the English language. Thanks for the follow-up, Elfrieda! 😀
Interesting! Thank you, Marian. I haven’t read ‘The Yearling’ or any books by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, although I’ve heard of her writing. I hope Cross Creek wasn’t damaged in Hurricane Ian. I visited Mark Twain’s Home and the Mark Twain Caves in Hannibal, MO many times as a kid and now I live not far from Mark Twain’s summer home and writing retreat in Elmira, NY. I’ve visited the homes of a famous writers in NY City and home of activist and suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Seneca Falls, NY, but without my traveling companion at my side, there’s no place like home with the maples turning brilliant red and the dogs ready for a hike.
Cross Creek was unscathed by Ian’s fury and is still open to the public. I remember visiting Mark Twain’s home in Hannibal but did not know about his summer home. Of course, it’s fitting that that home is the site of a writing retreat too.
I sense your contentment today, Elaine, admiring “the maples turning brilliant red and the dogs ready for a hike.” Lovely foliage and willing exercise machines–what could be better! 😀
“I do not understand how anyone can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to.” I agree with Marjorie. I’ve never read anything by her, nor have I been to her part of FL but it looks quaint and inviting. Thanks for sharing this.
Quaint, inviting, and enchanting, YES!
You’d enjoy a stroll there, Ally. Of that I am sure.
Thanks for checking in this afternoon. 😀
Fantastic mini biopic of this writer and her life Marian. Fabulous photos and snippets. No doubts you had a wonderful time. I loved everything except jelly cabbage salad. Just no. LOL 🙂 x
I like the phrase “mini biopic”– I’ve published blog posts of this ilk before, but YOU are the one to give such posts the right label. Thanks, Debby!
By the way, no one, and I mean NO ONE (except me) seemed to like the jellied cabbage salad. So there’s that too–haha! 😀
Hey, all you faithful writer friends of Marian.
Just for the record I DID eat the jellied cabbage! At first I took a tiny sample of it very gingerly, but then bigger spoonfuls. Despite its seemingly odd blend it’s actually is a great Sweet and Sour. I ate it three different times with the pork roast.
By the way, most of the time I’d rather eat an iced Cinnamon sweet roll, but Marian is a brave cook…and I enjoyed it 🙂
Cliff you stand out in many ways, but in this week’s column, you are the only one to embrace the recipe I posted. Kudos to you too for chauffeuring us to Cross Creek and points west. Yay! 😀
I enjoyed this Marian thank you – but eek re the cabbage and jello – but glad Cliff enjoyed it and now I can imagine that it has its charms. Sweet and sour. No, I’ve not heard of MKR but she sounds adventurous and fun and worthy of a Pulitzer. We’re off tomorrow on an adventure for a few days to a place of enchantment.
You are fortunate to have the best partner ever to travel with you to a place of enchantment. Maybe we will hear more about it soon. Thanks for tuning in, Susan! 😀
Hi Marian, thanks for sharing these pictures and info on Cross Creek and Rawlings. I can see how enchanting a place Cross Creek was to her and continues to be to visitors. I read The Yearling a long time ago, but not her memoir.