Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Memories : The Secret Garden

Image found on Google. I own nothing.

I've been largely invisible for the greater half of this summer.

Not for lack of things to write or do.

Simply because I can't.

Things happening, people passing, time somehow trucking by without me, it seems. I have a hundred and one little things I should be doing, ought to be doing and need to do.

And luckily, it seems, updating my blogs is one of them. ^_^

One of my "summer memories" as I dub them, happens to be an instant that I always remember my summers for. Most of you have heard me repeat over and over, how much I love to read the Secret Garden.

What I generally don't mention is how I came about reading it.

I remember it as a rather fuzzy sort of memory--you know the kind--not quite as vivid as your first individual accomplishment(perhaps acquiring your driver's license, crossing the street on your own, standing up for something that you hadn't quite resolved in yourself yet) That sort of thing.

It was a book my mother had picked out from the library and added to my stack. I didn't understand it at all, because back then, everything I read was a mystery book. If it did not have some sort of murder, mayhem or missing someone, I didn't want anything to do with it.

Of course, to temper that, I read all manner of practical things in the common "girlie" subjects of tatting(threadwork stuffs), horses(of any kind), cats(because I had too many), and graphology, the study of handwriting.

And somehow, my darling mother managed to slip that book into my stack when I wasn't looking. Now, the weekly library visits were always the highlight of my week, especially if I met my favorite librarian and avoided the library head--who, for some reason, didn't seem to appreciate my checking out about twenty books at a time.

I returned home, parceled out the books I planned to read during the week versus during the weekend and stumbled across a ratty, olive green hardcover tome with yellowed pages and old-fashioned black typeset.

I stared at it for a good long minute and, of course, could not recall where and when I picked it up. The title was unfamiliar and I always avoided the old bookshelves where the books seemed to be older than time itself.

The most logical course of action was taking the book to my mother and asking if she'd put it there. I did. She had. I left it alone.

I read out everything earlier that week. I think I walked around with my head perpetually in a book and a snack (most likely a carrot), alternating between crunching vegetables and crunching words.

When I'd exhausted my little stack, the lone book seemed to taunt me.

It was the kind of book I would have to hold with both hands, that would require careful turning of the pages so it would not fall apart and snackless reading, for the most part, because heaven help me, if I should manage to stain the yellowed pages.

The title read "The Secret Garden" and while that should've triggered something about my bloodhound sense for mystery, it only served to annoy me. So I ignored it--for all of a day. I don't quite remember why.

I just did.

Then the next day I strung up our family hammock between two persimmon trees and spent the afternoon reading the one classic that will always stay lodged somewhere between my heart and memories of my mother.

I read about a little girl with ill health by the name of Mary, how she met an invalid cousin by the name of Colin, how they became friends and then of a little animal charmer named Dickon. I first learned that a skipping rope was a jumprope.

I learned that gardens, whether fiction or reality, were soothing, somehow, even if it was only the idea of it on the page. I read it once, twice and a third time--all the way up to when I walked in the library to return it.

I searched high and low for some sort of sequel and was horribly disappointed to learn there was none. It would be years afterward before I would discover other books by Frances Brunett. I only knew that there was a magical book about a fictional garden that made me want to live in that world for quite close to forever.

But when I went to borrow the book again the following month, it had disappeared. I asked after it and was told it was being 'repaired'.

I never saw that particular copy again.

The library replaced it with brightly colored, shiny,  new abridged version.

I picked it up, looked at the colored cover and then put it back.

I never borrowed it from them again.

Recently, about three years or so, I found a lovely paperback copy, unabridged and in the bargain bin of a local bookstore. It now sits on my bookshelf in my room, on the shelf besides the Nancy Drew and Dee Henderson.

I read it once a year.

Usually in the summer.

And I remember things. I remember the first page, the tattered cover and reading in the afternoon sun while wrapped up in a hammock.

It is a summer memory, I hope I never forget.

~Sara Harricharan (c)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

There For Me (Friday Fiction)

 Hi everyone, I know it's a holiday weekend(Happy Father's day to all the dads out there!), but I am hosting Friday Fiction and while the linky widget is up late, I hope the story fits the weekend. I thought of my dad when I wrote this little piece. To join in the fun, just add your name and story to the linky list below. don't forget to read and comment! 

Author's Ramblings: I am so sorry to be late with this folks. Unfortunately, this week has just been one thing after another and this happened to be one of the things that completely slipped my mind. *headdesk* Apologies! As such, I've dug up this little snippet about Claire and her father, the opening prologue to one of my NaNo Novels a few years back. I wrote this with my dad in mind on what he'd say if I had a "major" choice to make in which he could weigh the outcome. Dads are kind of smart like that, huh? Enjoy the glimpse! Happy weekend!

“It’s not really a moral dilemma.” Claire twisted her hands together. “It’s just…I don’t know, Da. I don’t know if it’s right.”

“Sounds like you already know the answer,” he said, gently. “Is there a reason you’re dragging this out?”

“Yeah…” She stared at the patchwork quilted potholder hanging near the stove. The cheerful colors reminded her of her mother. The one woman in the world who would've understood this--same as she hoped for her Da.

“Go for it, Claire-bear.”

His only daughter smiled, tears gathering in the corners of her eyes. “I know, Da.” She started towards the front porch steps and paused for a moment. Her hand rested on the hilt of the sword hanging off her weapons belt. “Goodbye.”

“See you soon.”

He watched her walk away and out of his life. He knew she would not return. The same way he'd known when his wife had left.

To let her go, without begging her to stay, that, he decided, was the true dilemma. His hands fisted in the worn, old bathrobe. “Make me proud, baby girl.” He murmured. "Make us both proud."

© Sara Harricharan