Welcome to my world, the real life Clackum’s Corner.  You won’t find it on any map, as it’s just ten and a half acres of pastureland and woodlands in the middle of North Central Florida.  It’s a rural area, inhabited by farmers mostly, and a few ex-city-dwellers who got fed up enough to escape the rat race of the larger cities.  Five miles from us is the town of Bell, which is where our post office, elementary and high schools, two jiffy stores, a bank, a locally owned grocery, and a church, are located.  Nothing is within walking distance, and the nearest mall is located forty-five miles away in Gainesville, the home of the University of Florida and the Florida Gators. 

On most any day you can see forever, as there is no pollution, no concrete buildings, and except for the pines and oaks, there are no obstructions to the heavens. 

Of course, this wasn’t always Clackum’s Corner.  It was farmed out years ago and it took years for the land to replenish itself.  I wasn’t always here either.  I was born in Trenton NJ, and spent the best years of my childhood in good old Brooklyn USA.  My family, consisting of my mom and dad, my sister JoAnn, and I, moved down to Miami in the middle 50’s, as many of the snowbirds do eventually.  After I graduated from high school in 1965, I met my future husband, Larry, who was stationed at Homestead Air Force Base.  We were married on February 11, 1966, and had three great kids, David, Jessica, and Kimberly.   

   Jess and Kim.jpg (169841 bytes)

L-R:  Larry and David, Jessica and Kimberly
(Click on pics to enlarge)

When the kids were very young we decided to move out of South Florida, as crime and problems with drugs became more prevalent. We found this land in 1980, and knew it was meant to be ours. 

Being pretty much of a city-dweller myself, it was quite difficult acclimating myself to this life.  When you’re used to falling asleep by the sounds of police sirens and gunshots fired at all hours of the night, it’s hard to sleep with the mooing of cows in the next pasture at 11pm, or the crowing of roosters at 5am.  But as time went on, I started to actually enjoy the peace that it brought. 

I worked for nine years at the University and after I’d had my fill of having to leave home at 5:30am, in order to get to work and find a parking spot (which the administrators made us all pay for), and not getting home until after 6pm, which meant having to make dinner for everyone, doing the laundry, cleaning, feeding the dog, etc, and then going to bed by 8pm every night, I decided I’d given University of Florida enough of my life, and I resigned.  

 I was talking to Jess about this the other night and she brought up the fact that I never once gave them TV or Microwave dinners, everything I cooked after working all day and driving for an hour to get home, was all made from scratch.  How I did it, I’ll never know, but it was done.  I think it came from this martyr thing that was handed down to me by my mother (bless her heart). Anyone who has children knows what I’m talking about.  If there’s a chipped dinner dish, then you’re the one who uses it.  When the cake is cut and one piece is falling apart, you take it, and smile about it as you do.  I don’t know why this is, it just is, has always been, and always will be, as long as there are mothers and children.  Fathers, on the other hand, will stare down their children for that last piece of cake, and heaven help the one child who dares to reach over with his/her fork and grab the tasty morsel.  Don’t get me wrong here, these kids are and look healthy as horses.  I call them kids, even though the youngest is 30 and the oldest is going on 35 this year. 

I love my kids, even with all the worry wrinkles (no grey hair, thanks to Clairol, they send me Christmas cards every year) they have given me.  My oldest, David, was so easy going.  He was happy with anything we bought him.  And clothes? …a complaint never escaped the child’s lips about the color, style or whether it was what everybody else was wearing at the time.  Then there were “the GIRLS.”  Jess and Kim, the little darlings were so cute with their little dresses and little patent leather shoes when they were in the early years of school.  THEN THEY GREW UP.  At 10 and 11, they already knew what was in and what wasn’t.  I must admit that Jess was an angel in the store; she appreciated everything she got and didn’t really complain.  Kim was the baby and, yes, she was “the drama queen” of the family.  On our first visit to the hair salon, it took four grown women armed with shears and blow dryers, to hold her down while the fifth gave her a haircut.  They were so happy to see us leave that they refused a tip if we would just go.  Needless to say we never returned. 

Now they are all grown and two of them have since moved out on their own.  Jess is still here, but will probably be moving out in the near future.  Sure, now that they are easy to live with, they all leave me!  But I have passed on the Hersh curse, being “May you each have a daughter just like you.”  It had to be said.  It was passed on to me and it was my duty to pass it on to them.  My mother had the curse on her, gave it to me, and so on and so on. 

Because we have this land, there are numerous wild creatures living in the trees and on the ground, as well as under the ground.  I never saw them until one day when I started putting out a little bit of wild birdseed.  I continued to do this every day, for the next 20 years, only as time went on it went from a little bit of bird seed, to having eight bird feeders, various sized birdbaths and water bowls, and dishes filled with raisins, bananas and cookies.  The fresh fruit and cookies began as a simple offering of bread and butter squares to a little raccoon that I discovered had set up housekeeping in our roof.  He would peek his head out in the late afternoon and I would hand them up to him one piece at a time, using a long thin pole with a flat top on one end.  As time passed, he started coming down on the roof of the porch and hanging upside down to see if I had come out yet.  He became so tame that I could actually feed him by hand, using a glove just in case.  After a year of doing this, I noticed there were now two raccoons living up in our roof.  The female was so shy, she wouldn’t allow any of us to see her, but her little paw would extend out for a treat and I would hand it up.  One spring afternoon in May, I heard some high-pitched crying coming from inside the roof.  It sounded as if one of them were in pain.  I realized what it was after a month or so, when we had the male, the female, and three gorgeous baby raccoons coming down to eat.  If you’ve never seen a baby raccoon you don’t know what you’re missing.  One day when we were out working in the yard, I happened to be under the trees by the side of the house and I heard something.  I looked up and there were two of the babies playing right on the edge of the eave.  Being too young to realize what falling was, one of them leaned out too far and before he fell I called Larry to come quick.  He got there just in time to hold out his hands and catch the little guy before he hit the ground.  In no time at all, the mother was frantic and was afraid to come out to get him, so Larry put him in one of the higher branches of the cypress tree and we walked away, knowing she would come, and sure enough, she climbed down, grabbed him and took him back up to their den in the roof.  A couple of seconds later we could hear her as if she was scolding him for getting into mischief.

The babies grew up and left, but the male and female, whom I affectionately named Rocky and Racquelle, remained here.  Two years ago Rocky left for parts unknown and I miss him terribly.  A year later she had taken up with another male and they seem to be doing fine.  Below are photos of Rocky and Raquelle.

rocky.jpg (225319 bytes)  Rocky2.JPG (402632 bytes)   Racquelle sees Rocky coming.JPG (232731 bytes)
L-R:  Rocky accepts raisins from me, Rocky Raccoon, Raquelle sees Rocky coming
(Click on picture to enlarge)

                There are so many stories about these and other animals that live here on the land with us.  A few years ago we raised a baby blue jay who lived with us for almost a year.  No, he wasn’t held captive in our home, he would come and go as he pleased, but every day he would come in and eat and sleep in the house, and go out again the next morning.  I’d like to share that with you later on. 

          There are many other things that are part of my world that I’d like to share with my readers.  I hope you’ll return and I will have much more to tell you and show you.  When you have the kind of family I have, it would be a shame to not share it!  There are a lot of great laughs ahead, and some tears too.  So please come back. 

See you again soon,

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