I have discovered how important a “place of enchantment” for someone is. I don’t think I’ve ever felt truly comfortable in a home outside that of my parents until now, and I can’t tell you how much it has contributed to my sanity, productivity, and positivity. This year, I moved to the Duckpond neighborhood in Gainesville, characterized by antique homes, children’s parks, and the occasional crack house. (That’s okay, though, crack houses are the spice of life here in Gainesville.) It has lots of green space, history, and critters; it suits me perfectly, and I am perfectly happy here.
Marjorie’s home during her stay in Florida was at Cross Creek, which is just southeast of Gainesville. There, she managed an orange grove, hosted special guests, and completed the majority of her writing. She mentions in letters to Maxwell Perkins and her first husband, Charles Rawlings, her utter delight in this magical, glorious hammock. For her, Cross Creek was both an escape and also a warm familiarity. In Cross Creek, she writes:
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.
She mainly wrote on her porch. Overlooking her orange grove and alongside a pack of Lucky Strikes, Marjorie pounded away on her typewriter stories like South Moon Under, The Yearling, and “Gal Young Un.”
I have made my balcony, which overlooks a mini-forest in my neighborhood and a peaceful stream, with the ambient noises of the ducks in the duckpond, my place of enchantment. I have been more productive here than ever at home. I spend hours reading and writing down thoughts for my thesis, mesmerized by this little haven amidst the developed neighborhood I described above.
It’s not Cross Creek, but hey, I am doing the best I can with where I am.