I knew this Florida existed — the one with quiet country lanes shaded by live oaks dripping with Spanish moss; lined with fenced in pastures with grazing cattle and horses on gently rolling ranch land. But I didn’t know where. So I am so grateful to my friend K., a transplanted new Englander, for leading me to this area that reminded me, at times, of rural Connecticut, Ithaca waterways, Tennessee horse country south of Nashville and the Berkshires.
We started in a forested park north of the central (yes inland) town of Hernando, at Rainbow Springs State Park, with a natural spring with clear water, almost turquoise-colored in parts, that looked great for a swim (although there are snakes.) Then we bought some candy coated peanuts at the Williston Peanut Co.
And munched our way over to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Park, a grand name for the serene little citrus grove and simple, one story rambling white wooden “Florida cracker” style farm house that was home in that late 1920’s and 1930’s to the author, most famously, of the 1937 Pulitzer Prize wining novel, “The Yearling.” (Word has it her memoir of country living, “Cross Creek,” — the same name of the town where the homestead is located — is even better.)
The house was supposed to be closed on Tuesdays but we got lucky and joined a small group that had arranged a tour. Sandy soil. Shade from old trees, some offering oranges and grapefruit. lovely.
We had excellent thin crust pizza (one with fresh clams, in the shell, bacon and spinach; the other with big juicy shrimp atop melted cheese) at Blue Highway, an unpretentious pizzeria with a surprisingly inventive menu.
Then onto the pretty little very southern-feeling small town of Micanopy, which has one main street, a few blocks long, with an elegant inn (Herlong Mansion, 1845) and some well tended old storefronts with interesting antique and vintage shops, a cafe/bakery/tropical nursery. Great day!! Thank you K.!