Last Friday, I walked through the door of the famed Yearling Restaurant in Cross Creek, and stepped back into an earlier time in Florida’s history. A time and place first made real to me through Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Yearling. I think I must have been eleven or twelve the summer I first read the wonderfully enthralling story of young Jody Baxter and his pioneer family, struggling to survive in the “scrub” wilderness of 1870’s Florida. I pulled it from the home-made book shelf that housed my mama’s prized collection of Book-of-the-Month Club selections, prominently displayed in what was the “front room” of our tiny, four-room rented house. At my sister’s passing a year ago today, many of those same books came to me, including Mama’s copy of The Yearling.
The ambiance of the Yearling Restaurant is that of a weather-beaten shack, added to over time, and to my pleasant surprise, it has on display a remarkable collection of old books. I was there with Darlyn and Brad Kuhn to shoot video for a book trailer for the August release of my novel, Dream Chaser. For the interview with Darlyn Kuhn and my readings from the novel, I sat next to what I’m sure is an antique Co-cola box, and beneath a row of antique outboards hanging from the restaurant wall.
Afterwards, Darlyn and I, along with Brad Kuhn, and my editor, Joan Leggitt, prowled the grounds of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 1930’s homestead where she lived and worked. For me, there was a deep reverence in imagining her sitting on her front porch banging away on what I pictured as an old Royal typewriter, creating those wonderful works I loved. It was a moment that took my breath.