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)

2 comments:

Kristina said...

Aww, what a sweet story! It brought back a lot of memories for me. Most of us have at least one special book that stays in our hearts forever. You are such a fantastic writer, my dear! <3
When I was little, I lived and breathed books. Technically I still do. The last book I read: Of Mice and Men. (So sad!!!) Currently reading: The autobiography of Mark Twain. (Really good so far.) Next book in line: Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner. And so it goes. Reading is a wonderful thing, isn't it? ^_^

Carole said...

I was wondering whether you would be happy to put up a link in my monthly series called “Books You Love”. The idea is for people to link up posts about a book they loved. It could be an old fave. I am hoping we will end up with a nice collection of books that can go on our reading lists. Here is the link Books You Loved July Edition