The Secret Garden

When I was in the 6th grade, I won the school library's "Reader of the Year" award. I think that was possibly because I checked out about 3 or 4 books every day from the library and would usually have at least one of them finished by the time school got out. This kind of makes me wonder now just how bad that school must have been that I had so much free time to just sit at my desk and read, but whatever.

My prize was a hardback copy of The Secret Garden, the edition with the lovely Tasha Tudor illustrations. I already had a copy, but the fact is that I won this one, see. And that meant something.

Then in 1993 they did the Warner Brothers film version of the movie and I absolutely fell in love with it. They made England look like this gorgeous magical place, and there were all those sequences where they used time-elapsed photography or whatever to show all the flowers blooming and the really cute little baby lamb being all cute and stuff. As I watched it I thought, "Wow, what it would be like to live in the English countryside and watch it turn all to spring like that. I've really got to get myself over there." This was me at, like, thirteen, mind you.

Only now I am here, and I keep having all these Mary Lennox moments, like when I first noticed the bulbs starting to come up. They're getting ready to flower now, and it's so exciting to check on their progress and to see that spring is on the way. I almost dropped my bags and started weeding the front garden because I could see little green things trying to come up under last year's dead stuff. (It really is too bad about my black thumb. I'm sure that if I could garden, I should be a true proficient.)

Today I was walking home from class and I heard this really pretty bird twittery thing, and I didn't recognize it. (I mean, not that I know all the bird sounds or anything, but lately I've just noticed that there are a lot more bird sounds than there have been. Possibly they're all thawing out now from that flipping Deep Freeze we just had.) So I looked around to see where it came from, and saw my very first English robin, sitting high in the bushes with its pretty red throat, looking just like the one in the film who shows Mary how to get into the secret garden. Also it was singing this really lovely song, which American robins don't actually do, so much. They just tend to hop around like the enormous birds that they are, with their whole "if I don't move then you can't see me" routine.

I did manage to refrain from rushing over to the hedge and beating it with my fists while crying, "Show me the key! Please, show me the key to the garden!"

But I so wanted to.

I will go out with my camera and get pictures of the flowers so we can all have Mary Lennox moments, kay? And if there are people out there who don't know who Mary Lennox is or what The Secret Garden is, please slap yourself and then go to a library and get the book. Or the movie, if you're pressed for time and promise to read the book within the next 6 months.


amyjane said... [reply]

Mmmmm. The Secret Garden. I knew we were friends. Also, did you know that I won the library contest in 5th grade too? Possibly for the same reasons.

Stupidramblings said... [reply]


When we were working together, I believe I mentioned I had only read about 12 books in my life. Only now I realize I read The Secret Garden during my school days. So I guess my count goes to thirteen.

Thanks. I feel literate...

Word id: zaxwol--which seems like a good name for your English robin.

FoxyJ said... [reply]

I love, love, love The Secret Garden. I remember fondly when that movie came out and my best friend and I watched it numerous times. Have you ever listened to the music from the musical? It's quite good (make sure you get the Broadway version, not the London one--it's actually the better one after all). This post reminds of the year my family moved to Maryland after I had spent my whole life in California. Spring was a pretty amazing thing when you hadn't seen it before.

The McCulloch Family said... [reply]

Did you know mom bought that dvd? Lucky....

Anonymous said... [reply]

Man, was this ever a chick post...

Nemesis said... [reply]

Amyjane, we're pretty much One, I'm thinking.

Stupid, I know you have to have read more books than that. I mean, between those Wheel of Time books, The Secret Garden, and that one motivational book we had to read for work, that's like, what? Eleven? Okay, so maybe you have only read that many . . .

Hi Foxyj! Yes, I've heard the musical soundtrack but I don't know if it's the Broadway or London soundtrack.

Jen, life is so unfair sometimes. I think I was with her when she bought it but never figured out a way to smuggle it into my suitcase.

Hey, is that my dad again? Now I think all anonymous posters are my dad. And you're right, it is a chick post. Just wait till tomorrow, when I give the story of the Fluffy White Bunny who lived in the Cotton Candy Tree in the Forest of Shared Feelings.

Miss Hass said... [reply]

The Secret Garden is my second favorite book in the whole-wide world. Second only to A Little Princess by the same author. I had a similar experience with A Litle Princess and I've read it at least 50 times--possibly more. And I love both of the movies--even if the Alfonso CuarĂ³n version DOES have those weird scenes in India.

Seriously, I want to meet that Frances Hodgson Burnett when I get to the other side.

The Walrus said... [reply]

You had library competitions!?
Things must be getting desperate in the states! (no offense meant)

Abby said... [reply]

I didn't realize how much I loved gardens until I went to England for study abroad. Apparently, I was writing about flowers so much my friends kept on asking me so how are the gardens. If you ever have a chance, go to Stourhead (it's in Surry I think) in May or June. It truly is a magical place.

Absent-minded Secretary said... [reply]

I am completely enchanted with this entry. No wonder English gardens seem so much more magical than American ones, the birds sing differently. You paint such a pretty picture, I want to pick up the book again to relive my childhood memories. Thanks Nemesis!

Anonymous said... [reply]

Yes, it is your dad. For the guys who frequeny this post, I'm talking Red Badge of Courage, My Side of the Mountain, A Wrinkle in Time, Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson...No cute gardens and twittering birds

CoolMom said... [reply]

Yeah, our family copy of Secret Garden was "borrowed" by former day care kids and so last summer I bought the DVD because I love it and no one would watch it with me. Coolboy was "pretending" to be on the computer, but I think he was really listening. I think the same kids took "How I Spent My Summer Vacation". It was a fave.

CBH said... [reply]

Yeah, that Tiny Toons movie was pretty much the best ever.

And as for "listening at the computer" it was hard not to pay attention. I was annoyed that I knew every line and all the music even thought I've never actually sat down and watched that movie all teh way through. I think it has something to do with the fact that Spitfire watched that movie about 60 times in 50 days.

Kelly said... [reply]

Oh I want to come have a Mary Lennox moment with you! I have that version of "The Secret Garden" and the Tasha Tudor "A Little Princess."

After moving from Arizona to Vermont for my first year of college, all Spring long I kept annoying my friends by pointing at flowers and trees and exclaiming, "What's that?!" Um, a daffodil, Kelly. Or, a lilac tree, Kelly. They just didn't understand that I had been reading about these things for years, but had never seen them for real.

(Props on the P&P reference, by the way)

Lianne said... [reply]

I hope you have also heard the music to the musical of the Secret Garden... it is some of the most beautiful music composed (by Lucy Simon, Carly's big sister)

April said... [reply]

Will I be banned from this site if I tell you I was beyond bored with both the book AND the movie?
*ducks for cover*

Spitfire said... [reply]

Coolboy, thanks for stating the fact that, yes, that movie actually was mine! So, the new DVD should actually be mine, too, since coolmom let the daycare kids have it. I love you mom, but that was definatley not a cool thing to do . . .but don't worry, I hold no grudge, and understand that it was not your fault. If I wanted it, I guess I should have stolen it back long ago.

Stupidramblings said... [reply]

I was speaking almost literally about the books I have read. I also, in fairness to Spitfire, think Coolmom should buy Spitfire a new VHS copy of the movie. It's only fair. Besides, VHS tapes are fairly inexpensive right now...

CBH said... [reply]

...and they last a whole lot longer

Squirrel Boy said... [reply]

You know, American and English robins aren't actually related. The American robin got its name just because it happens to resemble an English robin—hence the lack of really lovely songs.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Hass, I love A Little Princess too. I like that one even better than The Secret Garden, I think.

Ok, see, John, I didn't KNOW there was a competition. It was just an award the library handed out at the end of the year. So, you know, I'm not pathetic. At all.

Abby, thanks for the recommendation--I will definitely have to write that one down!

ABS, you are a doll. And I loved your post about the Valentine's traditions and superstitions--I feel so knowledgeable now!

Dad and I talked on the phone about this one. I tried to say that there was a twittering bird in "My Side of the Mountain," but then remembered that it was actually a falcon who rips off the heads of bunnies and stuff. Good ol' Frightful. I bet she twittered as a chick, though.

Coolmom, I would watch it with you if I were there. Coolboy, countcher many blessings.

Kelly, I know what you mean! I don't think we have cute bitty crocus plants in UT. And we definitely didn't in Alaska.

Hi Mabel--I have heard the music and you're right, some of it is absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for the recommendation!

Hee hee! April, you're safe. No slaps for you because you DID read the movie and watch the book. We can still be friends. It's the P&P haters who are dead to me.

Ahhhh . . . it's all coming together. Thanks squirrel boy!

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