Sunshine Sundays ~ A Secret Place

The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett Lauren Child

The Secret Garden

I sit on dry leaves, under a canopy of palm fronds. Our spot is shady, protecting us from the intense midday sun. I pull my knees into my chest for comfort.

My daughter sweeps the leaves with an over-sized broom.

“Just tidying up before Maddy gets home,” she tells me. “You look after Daisy and Tuna? Maddy’s plane is late.”

The leafy enclosure takes me back to a leafy, private burrow in tangled lantana across the road from our property. The burrow was large enough for kids to climb into, but too small for an adult. Like children of the wild, my brothers and I hacked with machetes and made the cavern larger. A boulder sat in the centre. We used it as a table to plan our next battle against the neighbours, Conrad and Troops. We peered through gaps in the lantana to see if Conrad had discovered our hideout.

Around the same time, with Dad’s help, we constructed a treehouse in the dense pocket of rainforest regrowth. One night, we attempted a camp out. My brother sang a tribal song to drown out the chorus of cicadas. When I peered over the flimsy railing, I saw fluorescent mushrooms tucked against the tree’s trunk. They looked like fairy lanterns. By day, they were translucent and invisible. Our courage didn’t last the night, and we retreated home to warm beds.

Not far from the rainforest, was the shade house where I tucked myself into a cardboard box one Christmas Eve after running away from home. Even though I could hear my parents calling out and see their torches, I refused to answer their calls, and eventually fell asleep. A torch shining into my eyes woke me up.

These were the secret places that sheltered and protected us from the adult world…

Back under palm fronds, my daughter interrupts my thinking.

“Now, you be Mary, and I’ll be Dickon.” I try and hide my smile as she talks. She has perfected a Yorkshire accent, like I use when I read her The Secret Garden.

“Look like tha’ spring has come. Look there at tha’ robin. Aye!

“Don’t laugh, Mama!” she says.

We have been reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett most nights. It’s our special place to wander together after I have put Rosie in bed. She loves turning to the beautiful illustrations by Lauren Child and sneaking a look.

Not a lot happens in the story, and yet she is captivated. “When will they find the garden?” she asks repeatedly. I think she enjoys the conversations, and the constant anticipation of the garden about to be found, or the roses about to bud.

The Secret Garden was my favourite book as a girl too. It’s one of the books that stayed with me. It’s like carrying a secret place around inside – a place to escape to, which looks like an over-grown English garden, and smells like the Moore in spring.

I have been inhabiting secret places since I can remember, in my imagination and in the real world. Now my daughter inhabits her own.

Do you have a secret place? Can you share?

If you would like to share your story about a secret place, please link up for Sunshine Sundays. We’ve grown such a beautiful community of bloggers that come every week, comment on each other’s posts and respond with such sensitivity and thought to the theme each week. Sundays have always been my favourite days, and now they are even better. Next week’s theme is “If only…”

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