I have a bad writer confession: I’ve never read The Secret Garden. I saw the movie (the one from 1993 with the always marvelous Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock). For a time after that, I was obsessed with wearing a floppy beret that I got at the Renaissance Festival as part of my winter-wear. Our backyard sloped into a drop-off that was bordered with a wall made of railroad ties, and ivy had grown over the ground, dropping down over the wall to create a curtain, and I tried as hard as I could to sandwich myself between the ivy and the wall like Mary does when opening the door to her garden.
I usually shy away from feeling guilty over not having read books – there’s only so much time, and circumstances often align to prevent us from reading something that we should have. Friends are often surprised to hear that I was assigned nothing by Steinbeck to read during my undergrad, where I majored in English. But circumstances aligned – the American Lit professors I studied with were more interested in non-canonical works by women and minorities. Likely, they assumed that we had already read more mainstream works (especially those by men) or they cared little for trotting out texts they felt were tired and over-exposed.
But I can’t help feeling a little guilty over not having read The Secret Garden. I have several reasons for this guilt. One is that I’ve just read quotes from the book on Goodreads, and it sounds oh so magical, oh so lovely, oh so full of the hopeful human struggle that great literature captures.
Another reason for my guilt is that I’ve been chatting a lot lately with one of my friends, Becky, who writes a fabulous blog about gardening called The Green B. She was one of my professors in college (she taught British literature and introduced me to the fabulousness of Salman Rushdie; she also talked me through many a Type A-perfectionist freak-out in her office, bless her); in short, she put up with me during my bratty undergraduate years, and she still talks to me. Which means she’s pretty awesome.
And she currently coaches me on my little container garden, which brings me to my third reason for feeling guilty over not having read The Secret Garden:
Y’all, I got stuff growing. My small pots of earth are yielding little sprouts that, given time and sunshine and water, will eventually turn into flowers and herbs.
My sugar snap peas are beginning to sprout up, strong little stalks that are unfurling a bit more with each day. I’m hopeful for the day when we have sugar peas to pick and toss into a salad or saute in a frying pan.
I made the silly mistake of planting two herbs in two identical containers and then forgetting which herb went into which container. And only one of the containers is sprouting. The little leaves are fuzzy, which makes me think maybe it’s the sage, but time will tell.
We’re setting up our patio to be a little garden oasis. Our lantern on the table puts out a soft glow at night, like a nightlight for the patio, and now that we’re situated with the awesome mermaid bottle opener, the patio is becoming ideal for afternoon sitting, drinking a beer, staring at the mountains.
I’m putting The Secret Garden on my list of books to read. Soon. Maybe I’ll make Amanda watch the movie with me, too, for old time’s sake. And in the meantime, I’ll keep enjoying my blossoming little garden, my small bit of earth.