I loved that book so much that when I recently obtained an old copy of it, I simply couldn’t bring myself to read it. My memories of the secret garden had become their own secret garden. Now is a time of all secrets and no secrets. In French the expression jardin secret means something that you keep for yourself, a fantasy, a passion or even just a past time that absorbs you and that you don’t share with others.
In my experience of US culture, we like to tell each other everything. For many French people the way a new American acquaintance will just share their family drama, their financial woes, or even their eating regimen are a bit shocking. Is having privacy, and the laws uphold it so much more here, a loss of closeness, of intimacy? I like to get to know someone by hearing about their favorite philosopher or a film they’ve enjoyed rather than knowing how many siblings they have or what they eat for breakfast. When I moved to Toulouse I started doing all sorts of things that I don’t explain to very many people. And I also began writing on this blog which everyone and my mother can read. How do we decide what is secret and what is not? We all love reading the most vulnerable, the most human, the sweetest stories about each other which bare all but don’t bare everything.
When family are around all day and all night you may have to tend to your secret garden in the bathroom, or at dawn or only in your imagination. I am far from the raised beds I built and filled two springs ago in the pouring rain while listening to all of Esther Perel’s podcasts. All over the US people are getting ready to plant their gardens, to have greens despite the uncertainty. I water the scraggly lavender plant on my balcony and buy my vegetables. And yet, and yet, it’s nice to think of all of the secret gardens I am tending. The metaphor is a good one. I have eradicated a few weeds, they had tenacious taproots, and I’m sheltering a few sprouts from the frost.
Now is the time to water your little dreams, to take stock of how big your tree of desires has grown and to keep the little weeds from getting too big.