Remember the story “The Yearling”?

Oct 12, 2017 | Cultures | 0 comments

It is impossible to be among the woods animals on their own ground without a feeling of expanding one’s own world, as when any foreign country is visited. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Remember the story, “The Yearling”?

The author, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings left in her will to the University of Florida her house and all her belongings as a writer’s retreat. The University didn’t have the funds to keep up the old 1890s house so they donated it to the State of Florida. Now the public can take a walk back in time to the 1930s, take a deep breath and imagine what life was like without electricity and running water.

The author, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings left in her will to the University of Florida her house and all her belongings as a writer’s retreat. The University didn’t have the funds to keep up the old 1890s house so they donated it to the State of Florida. Now the public can take a walk back in time to the 1930s, take a deep breath and imagine what life was like without electricity and running water.

In 1928, Rawlings fell in love with the frontier Florida property in the small town of Cross Creek, south of Gainesville, in the Ocala National Forest. She described the land as a primitive section where men hunted and worked orange groves surrounded by mysterious swamps, dripping gray Spanish moss clinging to live oaks, panthers, and reptiles. To understand the depth of the Cracker people, Rawlings moved in with a family she befriended in the scrub. The new lifestyle satisfied her adventurous nature with survival skills and local phrases. She began to lose her sense of boundary from her sophisticated northern upbringing.“I feel hurried sometimes, as though I must get ‘written out’ in this country within the next few years because so much is no longer strange or unusual to me,” she said. In her books that followed this period of her life, she conveyed a strong sense of harmony with the scrub life she had experienced. “You kin tame a bear. You kin tame a wild-cat and you kin tame a panther. … You kin tame arything, son, excusin’ the human tongue.” The quote is from Penny, Jody’s father, in the Yearling story.

In the movie, Cross Creek, watch for the woman carrying the bed up the path, which is actually the bed you can see today in Marjorie Rawlings home in Cross Creek. On the mantle above the fireplace are books written by her friends, like Hemingway, Frost, and Mitchell. Margaret Mitchell invited to go to the grand opening of her movie, Gone With the Wind. Walk on the linoleum floor, which is still intact after 1700 people a year walk over it, while visiting the old homestead. Her dream of an indoor bathroom came true after she made $700.00 for selling her first book called “Jacob’s Ladder”.

After walking the 70-acre farm, stop at the Yearling Restaurant, a short piece down the road, to listen to old Willie Green, the local blues harmonica/guitarist. In helping to memorialize Rawlings words and fictional characters, one can see a whole zoo of stuffed creatures from the scrub, like the panther along with several walls of books on Florida history.

But to make the intangible tangible, to pick the emotion out of the air and make it true for others, is both the blessing and the curse of the writer, for the thing between book covers is never as beautiful as the thing he imagined.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

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Jackie Chase

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