Debit cards make it very easy to leave home with no money in your pocket. I learned this the hard way when I was a dollar short to tour Cross Creek, home of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
You may be surprised to learn that there are still places in America that do not have ATM machines, and where it is impossible to buy a Coke or a cup of coffee.
Many of these places are in Florida. This means using old-fashioned skills like thinking in advance, which is a skill that ATM machines have pretty much done away with. Having fallen victim to this myself, I can say that it is mildly embarrassing to join a tour group and then un-join it after publicly digging around in one’s purse and coming up short. What can you say? Gee, I’m really more interested in the barn than I am in the house? Who cares about an old typewriter, anyway?
Majorie Kinnan Rawlings moved to Cross Creek in 1928 and wrote six books and many short stories there, drawing upon the folkways of the Florida Crackers. The home was once three separate buildings that Kinnan Rawlings had adjoined after a small windfall from the sale of one of her stories. Other additions included the moonshine closet (Kinnan Rawlings bought her hooch from the back of a wagon) and an indoor toilet. She owned 72 acres of land, much of which was orange groves. It’s situated on a strip of land between Orange and Lochloosa Lakes and just down the road from the creek itself.
Since we were unable to tour the house, we peeked through the windows and hiked on a woody trail. Aside from the literary attraction, the Cross Creek experience is fascinating for Kinnan Rawlings’ mimickry of the Cracker lifestyle; the house and its grounds are as valuable as Gainesville’s Dudley Farm for the student of regional cultural history.
As we walked around the grounds, the noise from the airboats that launch from the park’s pier was nearly deafening. They roar down the canal and disappear through the marsh into Orange Lake, their presence a loud counterpoint to the quiet pleasures of Cross Creek.
Cross Creek: *****
If you visit: There are public restrooms in the park, just outside the fenced grounds. Admission to the grounds is $3.00 per vehicle, plus $3.00 per person for the tour. Tours are given Thursday through Sundays. No ATM machines, no gas stations, no animatronic deer.
That’s Spanish moss drying on the clothesline. Apparently it was used as mattress stuffing and as building insulation.
Inside were newly hatched chicks.
You can see the connector built between these two buildings.
The red flag means someone is inside doing business.
This 1940 Olds was not Kinnan Rawlings’ vehicle. It’s here to suggest the automobiles of the era. My only quibble with Cross Creek is that I wished the car had been turned around so I could have photographed the front.
Who knew ducks were so patient? The Cross Creek ducks put on quite a performance in this metal tub. They took turns bathing, one after another, with a small queue waiting quietly to the side of the tub. As one jumped out, another jumped in. Then they stood in a group drying off. This duck bathing ritual was a model of generous behavior to fellow ducks and is something we humans might want to emulate.