I was going through some photos today and came across a group of photos I had taken a few summers ago after a trip to "Cross Creek", the backwoods Florida home of author Marjorie Keenen Rawlings. Rawlings is most familiar to us through her beloved work The Yearling, about a boy who adopts an orphaned fawn,. The book won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1939 and was later made into a movie, also known as The Yearling.
I discovered that few people know much about Rawlings, though many have read The Yearling in school. So here is a little history about Rawlings from Wikipedia:
In 1928, with a small inheritance from her mother, the Rawlingses purchased a 72 acre (290,000 m²) orange grove near Hawthorne, Florida, in a hamlet named Cross Creek for its location between Orange Lake and Lochloosa Lake.
She brought the place to international fame through her writing. She
was fascinated with the remote wilderness and the lives of Cross Creek
residents, her Cracker neighbors, and felt a profound and transforming connection to the region and the land.Wary at first, the local residents soon warmed to her and opened up
their lives and experiences to her. Marjorie filled several notebooks
with descriptions of the animals, plants, Southern dialect, and recipes
and used these descriptions in her writings.
As one enters Cross Creek, the first thing that you see is a sign that says the following:
The painting that I did above, was not of Rawlings home at Cross Creek, but of a replica of an old Cracker Shack that was on the property and served as a home to the hired help. The humbleness of the property is evident, but what is not evident is the sense of profound peace and stillness that emanated the grounds.
Save for the occasional crowing of a rooster, the place was wrapped in a blanket of quiet serenity.
I have enormous respect for the people who braved these harsh lands and forged their homesteads upon ground that many today would consider uninhabitable!
I enjoyed doing this painting in my air-conditioned studio. It reminded me that I have much to be thankful for and also reminded me that I would have a hard time surviving on a remote homestead such as the one that Rawlings lived upon and called home! Yet overall, I could appreciate the sense of mystic loveliness that Rawlings described and which was etched on the sign above.