Friday, May 18, 2012

Coming home to our secret garden

Everyone needs a special place.

The summer house is ours.

A secret place of longing through long wintry days, the beach house draws us home each season.
“The Secret Garden was what Mary called it when she was thinking of it,” wrote Frances Hodgson Burnett. “She liked the name, and she liked still more the feeling that when its beautiful old walls shut her in no one knew where she was. It seemed almost like being shut out of the world in some fairy place.”

This perfect spring of warm sunny days interspersed with drenching rains incited the vegetation to grow.

“Is the spring coming? What is it like?” wrote Burnett. “It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine.”

The grass is a plush green carpet, surrounded by a border of wild bushes and flowers. Beyond this lies the salt marsh, a sliver of blue.

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden,” Burnett wrote.
Greeting us is a single bird with a plump white breast, sweetly singing in some very high overhanging branches. Not recognizing the squatter, I pull out the “National Audubon Society Field Guide to New England.”

The white-breasted nuthatch has a white face and a crown of gray. It creeps headfirst in all directions on tree trunks.
With a mid-belly of white and sides of gray, it might be a veery that serenades with a song of flute-like notes.

Or perhaps it is the Eastern wood-pewee, identified by grayish brown above, white below, and a head that often appears pointed. They are hard to see because they stay high in trees.
“Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off and they are nearly always doing it,” wrote Burnett.

We begin to nest, settling into this wondrous seasonal space. I can hear the Sakonnet, the cadence of the crashing waves calling me.
But for now, I am content to plant myself on this piece of earth, where I have deep roots. The first time I saw this place it was through child’s eyes, and through the passing years, I grew to cherish it.

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles,” Burnett wrote.

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