WE ARE IN FLORIDA!
When we stopped to set up camp, Captain Walsh called everyone together for a meeting. He said, “You are now standing on Florida soil.” He had to wait for us to stop cheering. “The caravan will stay together as planned, all the way to St. Augustine, Florida. Some folks will leave us there. Then, the rest of us will continue on down below Lake Okeechobee. I expect we’ll arrive sometime this summer.”
All of the Carters came over for supper last night, and Miss Melman joined us. She and Mama fixed chicken and dumplings. Mama took pity on her and said, “Cassie, you don’t have to kill the chicken this time, but watch what I do, so you’ll know how to do it next time.” Mama gave her an old apron to wear to cover up her pretty white skirt while she boiled the chicken and dropped in the dumplings.
The chicken and dumplings were delicious, by the way. While we were all eating around the fire, Miss Emily said, “Cassie, I have some lovely printed calico. Would you like me to make you a work dress or two, so you won’t ruin your pretty things?”
Miss Melman looked from Miss Emily to her mother, Mrs. Carter, and then to Mama, all the while noticing their skirts or dresses. They were all worn and faded. She said, “How foolish I am. Here I’ve come on a rugged journey, and I’m still dressing like I’m back in Jackson, teaching school. Yes, I would love some calico dresses.”
Miss Emily said, “I think we’re about the same size. I’ll give you one of mine to try on, and if it fits, I already have the patterns.”
Today, I started looking at our surroundings like Miss Melman asked us to. I saw hawks and eagles and even tiny hummingbirds. I made a sketch of some kind of white bird that has a big body, enormous wings, long twig-like legs, and a long, thin, curving neck. Its beak is yellow and comes to a sharp point. Pap doesn’t know what kind of bird it is, but he said, “It’s a beauty, though.”
We’ve passed a number of scruffy short trees that look like pointy bushes. The gigantic leaves look like fans. The bottom of the tree has wooden pieces jutting out this way and that. I sketched a few in my book, using the colored pencils. It’s so strange to see color come out when I draw across the page. It’s absolutely beautiful! Who would have ever thought we would have colored pencils? Miss Melman said we could blend the colors by rubbing them gently with the side of our finger. I tried rubbing them, and the colors smooth together and look very natural. I’m going to draw all the things I see on our journey. Maybe I’ll send you one in a letter.
I read your third letter today while Dylan was taking a nap in the wagon. I’m happy you have a special part in the spring play at school. I must confess that I am a LITTLE jealous about it! If I had stayed in Mississippi, I would probably be in it with you. Is the play one the older kids have done before, or is it a new play? Will there be singing and reciting? Sometimes, I miss going to our recitation class together. I still remember doing “Fireflies on Parade” and “Red, White, and Blue” together.
I can’t write anymore tonight. I’m falling asleep.