Cross Creek Lunch

I was treated to a birthday lunch, by my DH, at The Yearling restaurant in Cross Creek, which is the home of Pulitzer prize winning (1939) author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Although I’ve lived in this area since the seventies, I’d never visited Cross Creek! It was a wonderful treat.

Entrance to The Yearling

movie poster

Of course, I read the book The Yearling as a child, and later as a young adult. I remember how haunting and impressive Rawlings’ descriptions of central Florida were; she nailed the ambiance of this place.

inside one of many dining alcoves

DH ordered catfish and I got the appetizer sampler platter with gator tail, fried green tomatoes, frog legs and portobello slices. It was too delicious, with the spicy coating and fried to a crisp! My favorite dipping sauces of the 5 offered were the remoulade and the honey mustard.

catfish lunch

back: portobellos and tomatoes. front: gator and frog legs

My plan was to order some cooter, which was advertised on the restaurant’s web site, but we were told by the waitress that cooter is on the endangered species list now, so no cooter lunch for us! But we did run into Misty (my dear former co-worker) and her husband Bill, and caught up with some friendly hugs.

Barn (not original)

We waited around for a tour guide (they were dressed in clothes of the 1930’s era and thus were a bit more rumpled-looking than the tourists in their Perma-Prest duds) to show us the house and grounds.

chickens taking a dirt bath

One thing we learned was that chickens burrow and bathe in the cool, moist dirt when it gets hot. The guide said they hate being around water.

tenant house on the property

Rawlings’ sewing machine in guest bedroom

Rawlings lived here for about twenty years, starting in 1928. She installed two bathrooms in the house, a rarity for the time and locality. She was a popular hostess and entertained many folks here, both locals and celebrities. She had a refrigerator: a wooden cabinet that held a spot for a large block of ice with a slanted shelf that directed the melted water to flow out the back through a pipe. She also had a pantry and a stock of fine Wedgwood china serving pieces. After her death, her second husband Norton Baskin donated some of her personal possessions to the property for public view.

that’s a cooter shell on the floor of the landing to the right

The guide showed us Rawlings’ Singer treadle sewing machine and mentioned that she had some trials with sewing while living in the house. 🙂 I can only imagine what it must have been like to home sew in the 1930’s.

Marjorie’s pantry

the ice box

Our tour guide was a descendant of folks who had lived in Cross Creek during Ms. Rawlings’ time. He was very well-read and set the record straight about what was reality vs what Hollywood made of it. DH asked if he had any children or grandchildren who might continue on in his work as caretaker of this historic park. “Well, you see, it’s not likely,” he said. “They all like air-conditioning too much.”

One of the park fliers had this Rawlings quote: “Enchantment lies in different things for each of us. For me, it is in this: to step out of the bright sunlight into the shade of orange trees, to walk under the arched canopy of their jadelike leaves; to see the long aisles of lichened trunks stretch ahead in a geometric rhythm, to feel the mystery of a seclusion that yet has shafts of light striking through it. This is the essence of an ancient and secret magic.”

In the pages of The Yearling, you can read about central Florida and be transported right here by Rawlings’ truthful, powerful and illuminating prose.

a Florida historic landmark


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Karen Berthine
    May 04, 2012 @ 18:23:07

    Brave woman! But, what’s a DH?


  2. ethgran
    May 04, 2012 @ 19:23:09

    DH = Dear Husband. Hey lass, you didn’t let on that it was your B-day! Not fair! Bill and I took a trip down to Miconopy and then just did a drive by look at Cross Creek and Rawlings’ diggs with that usual promise to come back and take a tour. I learned to sew on a Singer that was the sister to that treadle pictured which had been converted to electricity. Because my oldest sister put a machine needle right through her finger, I wasn’t allowed to use the electricity until I was 10. grrrrrr But I did use the thing by turning the wheel by hand. Just may have to request my not so dear husband to take me to lunch on some gator and frog legs. I’ve had them before – they both taste a lot like chicken. ;o} Happy Birthday, Hon!


    • jenyjenny
      May 04, 2012 @ 19:39:27

      Ha, I didn’t care much for the frog legs. Skip says you need to avoid eating the vein: that is what gives it a fishy taste. Hours later I felt like I had just finished eating. A man at the park said the sour orange pie was delectable…I couldn’t handle dessert after that pile of fried stuff! Next time, maybe…


      • ethgran
        May 04, 2012 @ 22:32:21

        I guess the frog legs I had (eons ago) were devained cus I thought they were good and without any fishy taste. (that is enough to put anyone off – yuk) I was just put off a bit because I like frogs as in alive and hopping around. Sour orange pie sounds gooood.

  3. Sylvia Dunn
    May 05, 2012 @ 08:06:50

    Love the tour! Thank you!


  4. Posky
    May 14, 2012 @ 10:21:11

    I saw some birds taking a dirt bath over the weekend.

    It always seems really funny to me for some reason.


  5. Aian Ramos
    Apr 23, 2013 @ 07:59:09

    well, looks like someone had a great birthday treat from DH:)


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