I watched one of my favourite films, The Secret Garden (1993) on Netflix and my imagination and emotions were so fired up, I burst into tears at the end. The context of the plot hadn’t struck me back in the 90s on first watch but this time it did and I was so enlightened, it hit me on a personal level: recovery. I then started the story below as inspired by the film.
Suggested audio: Entering The Garden by Zbigniew Preisner, from the film, The Secret Garden OST 1993
Jane spied with her most watchful eye a place so magical yet she couldn’t go! Or could she?
A door. Full of cobweb garlands glistening with dew and weathered paintwork peeling off as though trying to expose what lies concealed. The wood itself remained strong and protected it’s contents like a mighty warrior’s shield held across his chest.
A keyhole. Rusted red beyond the aid of WD40. If indeed, such a magical product even existed. She clutched her beloved burgundy cloche hat and bent down to peer inside. Light softly emanated through but she could not make out form. A startled spider scuttled out and to the girl’s amusement, looked like she was waving four tiny hands in rage. Jane giggled. She then blew sharply into the lock but felt momentarily dreadful for destroying the spider’s home. Jane suddenly gasped and put her unmanicured hand to her mouth. Through such a tiny opening she could see a whole new world. A world seemingly beyond her reach.
Jane stood upright and straightened her beloved plaid dress. Her oxford shoes were grubby as she did not see the logic in cleaning items that were worn outside. She smiled as she knew the Cheshire Cat in her favourite Wonderland book would certainly agree. Jane headed back towards her very boring home wishing she had an agaric mushroom to eat and transport her through the keyhole. Alice was a very fortunate girl, Jane thought in her constant envy of all that is fantastical.
Later that night as Jane sat on her travelling trunk gazing out of the window she could not get the image of the keyhole out of her thoughts. An abandoned cobweb on the outer corner of the dusty window pane caused her to frown. That lucky little spider can to and fro between Jane’s world and the secrets within the door. Oh what must it take to get inside? Perhaps to become a spider? Or, she giggled in amusement revealing her delightfully childish side, a Cockchafer beetle?
The moonlight bathed the room with promise of a better tomorrow. Every day is an experience that can be preserved in tatty old diaries or a watercolour painting. Jane considered the night time the most exciting part of a day. The slow tentative build up to sunrise, the tuneless excitement of neurotic blackbirds and the smell of boiled eggs and toast as her father rose early for work at the John Wallace & Sons, Agricultural Engineers making boring old Glasgow Tractors. A company under threat because a Mr Henry Ford. Mother always went back to bed after waving him goodbye and Jane smiled to herself thinking of breakfast with mother in precisely three hours time.
Mother and daughter enjoyed breakfast together. A lighter bowl of new Rice Krispies, they sounded so funny with their “snap, crackle and pop!”. Like the sound of the crackling coal fire. Jane golluped her cereal and drank her tea all at once much to the surprise of her mother. Jane knew her mother suspected she was up to something yet again but knew it would be alright. Jane was renown for her antics and the local community were never surprised each time they saw her run past their window. A little to old to be running but who makes up such strange rules? Curious Jane hated just one thing and that was rules! Dressed in a navy blue and white pleated skirt and blouse, Jane felt rather like a sailor. Her trusty worn out oxford shoes still bore the dirt from the day before but cleaning shoes was pointless in Jane’s world. She darted out of the house without her usual hat or headband in excited lapse of memory.
Now where was the door with the keyhole? Jane recalled the weathered appearance with peeling paint but the colour? Oh my, she exclaimed, it was as green as the hidden world within and the keyhole the surprisingly nice colour of rust. And the spider who waved her angry little legs at me! Jane tried her best to re-trace her steps but struggled to find the door. Alice would simply fall asleep then follow the White Rabbit she thought as she pondered mushrooms and strange characters. Street after street, door after door she could not find it anywhere. Excitement became almost tearful frustration and as the sunshine began to dip in the sky, Jane let out a long sigh and slowly trod home as though stamping in small puddles.
Moonlight poured into her bedroom and echoed from the tilted old mirror. The mirror was as unkempt as Jane’s shoes and a thought caused her to startle then sit upright. The mirror looks like that door, she thought in delight. She clambered out of bed and stood before it. The mirror was old and had been there since she was a small child. Jane cocked her head to the side and laughed as her reflection resembled an inquisitive chicken. She turned round, got back beneath her cosy eiderdown and lay with her hands behind her head. Mustn’t frown she told herself. With the suddenness of a Jack-in-the-Box she sprung up again with a grand realisation.
Jane didn’t need to find the door, she simply needed to look all around her. The trees, the gardens, the fields, the sea, the riverbanks, animals and so many wonderful people… Her mind could not keep up with her racing thoughts. Why such trouble of a trying to unlock a rusty old keyhole wherein is simply the garden of the home its walls connect with. Everybody’s mind is a key, a big gleaming key made from twenty four karat gold to unlock every keyhole in the whole world. Such a magical place open to exploration.
And with that most precious thought, Jane’s curiosity was both satisfied and fuelled. She beamed and twirled around on the spot as she looked upwards towards the endless azure sky.
“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Copyright: Sharon Lawson™