“I need a place where I can go,

Where I can whisper what I know…

A place where I can go when I am lost

And there I’ll find me.”

… so sings Mary Lennox, newly orphaned at ten years of age, in the Broadway musical, based on the children’s classic, The Secret Garden, written by Frances Hodgson Burnett in 1911.

Immediately, we want to know what has happened to Mary. Why so cross, sickly, thin, her crepe hat and black cloak draining her yellowish skin. A sole survivor of a cholera epidemic in India, she wakes up in her uncle’s manor on the Yorkshire moor, overwhelmed, totally alone. Yearning for her private space, she engages all her senses and fires her imagination.

Fanciful elements then evoke Mary’s transformation into the laughing girl she becomes. The song of a red-breasted robin leads her to unearth the key to the ivy-covered gate of an overgrown garden, one among many surrounding Misselthwaite Manor. Inside the garden, she discovers new greenings spiking through the warm earth amid dead growth she feverishly removes. A later chance meeting with twelve-year old Dickon, intimately acquainted with all living things on the moor, also rebirths her spirit. Together, they tend the blooming secret garden as spring’s pastels inch into summer’s riot, into fall’s quiet.

As November’s darkness plummets us within the mystery of disintegration and snuffs out the sun’s light, our own as well perhaps, we can stay fresh within our secret garden, wherever we discover one. Like once forlorn Mary Lennox, we can laugh, heartily …