Our Secret Garden
This is one of the short stories that is in a book I wrote about me and my sister, Jacquie. The book is called “Growing up Me, Sister’s in Rural Missouri.” When you got one you always got both, we were me to everyone. She passed in Oct of 2007, I found sitting down and writing about all the wonderful memories that came flooding in was very healing to my heart and spirit. The words in these shorts will be there for her children, my children, our grand’s and our future grand’s. I hope they enjoy reading the stories and it will give them a peek into where they came from….RaeDi
Our Secret Garden
We lived on a small rural farm just outside of town. At the time the only children we had to play with was ourselves. That was okay; Jacquie and I liked it that way. We were not only sisters, but best friends. We did everything together. Our Mom would let us go for long walks, but if we were going to pass through our neighbor’s property, we had to have their permission. We treasured our excursions in all directions; the long walks gave us freedom that we had not experienced before.
One rule from our neighbors, Ralph and Mary was we were never to enter the fenced in acreage where they kept their big black bull. It was just across the road from us. We could see the big black bull and we were given several warnings on more than one occasion stay away, do not even approach the fence. They explained to us, he was no pet, and he could charge at you. Do not give him any reason to watch you it would make him nervous.
On one such walk across our neighbor’s property, a very different pathway than through the bull’s fenced in area, we found a very old house. The paint had weathers away many years before we had discovered it in the overgrowth of brush and trees. Its roof was weather worn and shagging in the middle but in spite of everything it was even now protecting the interior of this old home. The windows were all broken out and the doors no longer existed. The front porch, what was left of it was not stable at all. We were as leery of it as the house we were trying to peek into through the door opening.
There were still some personal things in the house from long ago. We could see some dishes on the shelves and knickknacks lying around along with a few pieces of the furniture, which had been all left behind from the last family who had lived here. Each piece had some of its upholstery still attached, it was very faded, but after studying it from the distance of the door you could see a few small newly revealed areas where you could still make out what the original color and design had been. However, for the most part most of it was scattered about the rooms from animals taking what they had needed to make their nests over the years.
We both were too scared to cross the doors path; we thought there might be ghosts in the house. We went all around the house gazing through each of the window frames. There was a bed frame in one room and in another; a mirror, which had hung on the wall long ago, you could make out the faded oval shape where it had hung, it was now on the floor in many broken pieces. We wondered who had broken it and if they had seven years, bad luck.
The glimpse of what we saw was of by gone, many years before we had been born. To glance into this home gave us a small impression of who these previous occupants might have been. Our imaginations’ ran wild with all kinds of reflection of their departed souls. All was long-gone from this dwelling; to us it was a place of origin, birth and even of death.
The thing that we found the most amazing was in the backyard. There we had discovered the remains of an old water garden. The weeds had taken over, but the water still laid claim to the water lilies that were in bloom, it revealed itself to us with its color and scent. We were looking at the large yellow lily blossoms and were thrilled over the beautiful fragrance the blossoms produced you could smell them from some distance. We then noticed the large gold fish living in the pond. It so fascinated us the fish had survived all the elements for all the seasons for what we thought was at least a hundred years.
We visited this place as often as we could. In all the outings to our hush-hush abode, we now considered it our private place our secret garden, a setting with the most precious of scenes those two little girls of the ages of eight and nine could have had all to themselves. However, in all the trips we never crossed the doors pathway.
We would come back and watch the fish and always brought a picnic lunch with us. We shared the crust of our sandwiches with them; they would come right up and get the pieces of bread from us. We were always so excited about our visits the enjoyment the pure delight we found at our newfound place of tranquility our mysterious homestead. We never shared a word of what we found with another soul. We decided on our way home from our very first visit that the newly found undisclosed garden would be our secret, we would tell no one else. It was our special place; we would visit it as often as we could.
We were two very young girls out on one of our many excursions, not knowing in what direction we would go or what we would find around the next corner or just down the lane. We did our walks as frequently as we could. We were never disappointed and were always waiting for the next time we could go out on our excursions. We would visit our water garden often. We had wonderful discussions over the years about our special secret garden. It was the first of many new discoveries for these two very young and innocent girls.
Years later, we would laugh about how we thought the house was haunted. We also talked about the family graveyard we had found not too far from the water garden. It was several seasons later that we found the gravestones. Was the water garden a memorial to one of those that lay in the family burial ground just across the way? We mustered up enough courage to stay long enough to read each of the headstones. It gave us pause, made us realize that the people here in this old homestead were not much different from anyone else. They too had heartache and they had joy. We had never known anyone who had a water garden; they too had to be out of the ordinary. They were very special people to us.
We stayed our distance from the house and even the gravesites. The water garden and all the small talk it gave us over the years are very treasured memories I had shared with only my sister, our discovery of the unique situation of this old homestead with features that we as young girls had not even known about other than in books.
We felt the people who lived in this house were very distinguished; we had never known anyone with their very own little pond with very large gold fish and a burial place for the family right there in their own back yard. They seemed at times so very strange and uncommon to both of us. For us as sisters it was one of those treasured lifetime occurrences, which had given us a restage of sort, with us no matter how many times we discussed these dear memories we never tired of revisiting our secret garden. For me now that Jacquie is gone, I relive this memory more than most.
We even talked about having our own water garden ourselves when we were old enough to have our own homes. The day did come when I was finally able to have my Koi Garden and when I shopped for the water lilies they had to have the lovely yellow blossoms and the delightful fragrance that I remembered since I was a very young girl.
The yellow blossoms always take me back in time; the amazing yellow of those blossoms and the incredible fragrance is what got our notice in the beginning. They announced themselves to us, and when we went to find out what they were is when we made our discovery. I often think of my sister and I having a picnic watching the large gold fish in the very old water garden. Each time I sit by my koi pond it takes me back to some of my most treasured memories….
The picture I did on one of our visits to our Secret Garden. That was fifty years ago, hard to believe how fast time flies by.