Monday, March 1, 2010

journies through old florida by way of Cross Creek

Last year I was very much in love with old florida, and part of our farming life and our return to our home state has been to fulfill and re-create the romantic visions we have of it. Such a journey is incomplete without the wisdom of elders, and here in Florida there are far and few between... they are here you just have to look really carefully for them. Pick through the yankees (me) and New Yorkers (but thank god for them, they've given us good pizza & Italian ice, of which I could not live without). A somewhat easier and more portable route is to make your way  through old Florida literature to learn some of the necessities of rural life here. Which brings me to my relationship with Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Cross Creek, the 1st book in my Florida love series.

Have you ever started a book that took you ions to finish? Last winter Doug & I visited her homestead near Gainesville and I started reading it. I got through the first half in a few days and then we left for Mexico and I got sidetracked, etc, etc. etc.

Last night I finished it, and what a treasure it is of old Florida ways and lifestyle. Especially for those of us in the swampy citrus parts.

It starts out as beautifully as it ends:
"We can not live without the earth or apart from it, and something is shriveled in a man's heart when he turns away from it and concerns himself only with the affairs of men." 

And closes on a similar note: 
"It seems to me that the earth may be borrowed but not bought. It may be used, but not owned. It gives itself in response to love and tending, offers its seasonal flowering and fruiting. But we are tenants and not possessors, lovers and not masters. Cross Creek belongs to the wind and the rain, to the sun and the seasons, to the cosmic secrecy of seed, and beyond all, to time."

Even though Rawlings herself was a Yankee carpet bagger who exploited Florida (like so many today) to benefit her writings, she did, as you learn in the pages of Cross Creek develop a strong bond and connection to the people and land of the creek. Something that gives a Yankee like me hope that I can do a bit of good and make right some of the wrongs :)

Next up, Zora Neale Hurston's, Their Eyes Were Watching God, if I can locate my copy. I'm embarassed to admit I've never read it, but I will I will and hopefully much quicker than I did the last!