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Posts Tagged ‘The Secret Garden’

roses crimson

The seeds Dickon and Mary had planted grew as if fairies had tended them.

roses apricot sunlight

Satiny poppies of all tints danced in the breeze by the score, gaily defying flowers which had lived in the garden for years and which it might be confessed seemed rather to wonder how such new people had got there.

poppies red longfellow house garden

And the roses—the roses!

roses pink library

Rising out of the grass, tangled round the sun-dial, wreathing the tree trunks and hanging from their branches, climbing up the walls and spreading over them with long garlands falling in cascades—they came alive day by day, hour by hour.

climbing roses purple door

Fair fresh leaves, and buds—and buds—tiny at first but swelling and working Magic until they burst and uncurled into cups of scent delicately spilling themselves over their brims and filling the garden air.

rosebud honeysuckle pink flowers

I keep thinking of these lines from The Secret Garden as I walk around Cambridge, stopping to sniff roses and snap pictures and marvel at the colors. Summer has arrived and I am reveling in it, naming its glories: poppies, iris, peonies, columbines, honeysuckle, trees in full vivid green leaf.

I don’t know the names of everything I see, but as Mary Oliver says, “one doesn’t need to know the names to feel the presences.” I do know the roses, though, and their sweet scent and rich, velvety colors are a delight both familiar and new.

budding rose

I carried pink roses at my wedding, nine summers ago, and I picked wild roses on my grandparents’ farm as a child. My florist’s shop has buckets of them right now, in every color of the rainbow. But I love seeing them along the sidewalks too, nodding their heads in the breeze. They are “sweetness pure and simple” (Mary Oliver again), and they are saving my life these days.

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crocuses purple spring cambridge ma

‘Springtime’s coming,’ he said. ‘Cannot tha’ smell it?’

Mary sniffed and thought she could.

‘I smell something nice and fresh and damp,’ she said.

‘That’s th’ good rich earth,’ he answered, digging away. ‘It’s in a good humour makin’ ready to grow things. It’s glad when plantin’ time comes. In th’ flower gardens out there things will be stirrin’ down below in th’ dark. Th’ sun’s warmin’ ’em. You’ll see bits o’ green spikes sticking out o’ th’ black earth after a bit.’

‘What will they be?’ asked Mary.

‘Crocuses an’ snowdrops an’ daffydowndillys. Has tha’ never seen them?’

‘No. Everything is hot, and wet, and green after the rains in India,’ said Mary. ‘And I think things grow up in a night.’

‘These won’t grow up in a night,’ said Weatherstaff. ‘Tha’ll have to wait for ‘em. They’ll poke up a bit higher here, and push out a spike more there, an’ uncurl a leaf this day an’ another that. You watch ‘em.’

‘I am going to,’ answered Mary.

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

I spotted the first crocuses of the season (pictured above) on Monday, in the yard of a house with a purple door. They sent me running to my bookshelf for my green-covered paperback of this lovely book, which chronicles an astonishing series of transformations. The bitter, lonely orphan Mary Lennox, the spoiled invalid Colin Craven, and Colin’s reclusive, embittered father, Archibald Craven (Mary’s uncle), are renewed and restored, as surely as the fallow ground and tangled plants in the walled garden are made new after lying dormant for ten years.

I loved this story as a child, because I love gardens and England and stories of hope. But only since spending two winters in Oxford, and then three in Boston, have I come to appreciate the true wonder of spring. In a place where two feet of snow can fall in March, a clump of crocuses on a sunny day feels like a miracle – even if you’re wearing a down coat when you spot them.

Like Mary, I am watching the green spikes sticking out of the black earth, rejoicing in the plump robins hopping around campus, relishing the suddenly longer evenings. I am waiting for soft air and blossoming trees, and for the appearance of rhubarb at the grocery store. Spring, more than any other season, inspires me to pay attention, and until it arrives, you can find me watching and waiting, alert for the first signs of bud and bloom.

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