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In late September I visited north central Florida. While driving through Ocala National Forest, I learned that I was very close to Cross Creek, the rural homestead where author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1896-1953) lived and wrote during the 1930s and '40s.
Although Rawlings was born in Washington, D.C., attended college in Wisconsin and worked as a journalist in upstate New York, it was Cross Creek in Florida's backwoods that captured her imagination.
In 1928 she and her first husband, Charles, purchased the 72-acre orange grove. As Rawlings recalled later, the property included "two cows, two mules, 150 chicken coops ... and an old Ford truck on its last leg."
Fascinated with the area's rich flora and fauna, Rawlings began capturing the equally rich stories of local residents, or "crackers." These stories culminated in her two most famous titles: "The Yearling" and "Cross Creek."
Released in 1938, "The Yearling" earned her a Pulitzer Prize. Although never intended to be a children's book, the story of a boy's love for his pet fawn was almost immediately considered a children's classic and was made into a critically acclaimed motion picture in 1946.
"Cross Creek," her autobiographical memoir, was published in 1942. It proved so popular that "Cross Creek Cookery," filled with Rawlings' recipes, was released later that year. Both titles were translated into more than a dozen foreign languages.
In addition to writing, Rawlings taught at the University of Florida in Gainesville and developed friendships with authors Ernest Hemingway and Margaret Mitchell and poet Robert Frost.
After her death, Cross Creek became Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park.
It was a fitting tribute.
Rawlings believed that "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."
Kathryn Otoshi 3 p.m. Saturday. Illustrator of "Marcello the Movie Mouse" will conduct a story time and sign her work. Refreshments served. Adventures for Kids, 3457 Telegraph Road, Ventura. 650-9688.
Preschool Stories 10 a.m. Mondays. Camarillo Library, 3100 Ponderosa Drive. 482-1953.
Thanksgiving Stories 6:30 p.m. Monday. Wright Library, 57 Day Road, Ventura. 642-0336.
Time for Twos Stories 10 a.m. Tuesdays. Camarillo Library, 3100 Ponderosa Drive. 482-1953.
Thankful Stories 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Ojai Library, 111 E. Ojai Ave. 646-1639.
Turkey Tales 11 a.m. Tuesday. Foster Library, 651 E. Main St., Ventura. 648-2716.
Thanksgiving Stories 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Wright Library, 57 Day Road, Ventura. 642-0336.
Teen Knitting Club 4 p.m. Wednesday. Prueter Library, 510 Park Ave., Port Hueneme. 486-5460.
Paws for Reading 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Wright Library, 57 Day Road, Ventura. 642-0336.
Monday 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., Thousand Oaks. 446-2820.
Tuesday 9:30 a.m. Barnes & Noble, 4820 Telephone Road, Ventura. 339-0990.
10:15 a.m. Moorpark Library, 699 Moorpark Ave. 529-0440.
10:30 a.m. Adventures for Kids, 3457 Telegraph Road, Ventura. 650-9688.
10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Oxnard Library, 251 South A St. 385-7535.
11:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Simi Valley Library, 2969 Tapo Canyon Road. 526-1735.
Wednesday 10:30 a.m. Blanchard Library, 119 N. Eighth St., Santa Paula. 525-3615.
11 a.m. Borders, 2910 Tapo Canyon Road, Simi Valley. 526-2800.
Thursday Happy Thanksgiving.
Friday 7 p.m. Borders, 241 W. Esplanade Drive, Oxnard. 988-6886.
Saturday 11 a.m. Simi Valley Library, 2969 Tapo Canyon Road. 526-1735.
3 p.m. Adventures for Kids, 3457 Telegraph Road, Ventura. 650-9688.
-- We'd like to announce your news about book/author events in Ventura County. Send items at least three weeks in advance to Jo Ellen Heil, P.O. Box 7083, Ventura, CA 93006.
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