Wednesday, October 10, 2007

GIVE AWAY...A Sneak Peek!

Mary: "Can I have a bit of earth?"
Lord Craven: "A bit of earth?"
Mary: "To plant seeds in. To make things grow."

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

As promised in my last post I am offering you a sneak peek at the beginning decor stage of the book box that will contain the goodies in my Give Away. I am also offering a peek at the first item to be placed in the box. These peeks will extend over several posts.
The theme of the GIVE AWAY (sign up here under the comments section) is going to be based on my favorite children's literature. I am basing this Give Away on an idea birthed by my Mother Goose ATC swap participation (see previous post) and my love for books. I am an avid reader and learned to love books at a very early age. When other children were playing "house" and "school" I played "library". I would set up my "library" in our formal family dining room. I loved the big lace covered dinning table as my desk and my mother indulged my play time by letting me remove the items from her whatnot shelf and fill it with my books. I created library cards for the neighborhood children and our front door was my "library" entrance. I would sit on a stack of large books in my chair to make me appear "adult" and invite my patrons in to "check out" their books. I even earned a few extra pennies for overdue fines. I made the other children call me "Miss Sandy" and I also made them use quite voices.

My mother would often come in and read a story to the group. Now my mother was not nor is not an animated type person, but when she began to read a story a transformation took place. She would relax and the best part was that she did the "voices" of the characters! One of the neighborhood favorites was when she would read to us from Uncle Remus. Being from the South and growing up in a rural farm community, which has a twang and language all its own, mother can lapse back into her native dialect, she does this every time she goes home, and it is fascinating to hear.

Mother read to me every night. I often lay in bed staring at her lips as they formed the words and listened to her voice lift and lilt with expression and feeling. She never tired of reading and I could beg and beg for another book and she just kept going. I think she missed the times of reading aloud when I grew older, but we still read together, quietly and separately. She was the first one to foster my love of words and reading. She was the one who influenced me and introduced me to the magic of moving through worlds unknown, places of imagination, and she gave me the gift of having a place to which I could safely escape later on when great trouble came into our lives. Thanks Mom!

The first item I have chosen for the goodie box is a tiny vintage wooden hand painted trinket box. Notice that the lid is a tiny circle of green upon which little flowers bloom. This trinket box represents the book, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This book is generally viewed as one of the most influential books in children's literature.
Frances was born in Cheetham Hill, Manchester. Her father died when she was quite young leaving her mother to care for five young children. The family had to endure poverty and squalor in the Victorian slums of Manchester. In 1865 at an Uncle's urging the family emerged in Knoxville, TN, but this move made no difference in their poverty status. Two years later Frances' mother died leaving Frances at the age of 18 as the head of a family of four siblings. Frances was said to have had a vivid and fertile imagination and she wrote her first poem at the age of seven. She turned to the fertile field of words to support herself and her siblings. Her first novel was published in 1877. By the mid 1800's she lived mainly in England where she really did discover a secret garden.

You may well wonder what all this has to do with a little trinket box, well, let me explain:

In this book the main character, Mary, has been orphaned and sent to live with her Uncle, Lord Craven. At one point in the story Mary approaches Lord Craven and petitions, "Can I have a bit of earth?", to which Lord Craven replies, "A bit of earth? ". Mary explains, "To plant seeds in. To make things grow." I think this a desire every person has within their heart, a little place or space of their own where we can each plant our own personal "seeds" and make them grow. Maybe your "seed" is growing your children, sharing your words or your art, maybe your "seed " is spreading kindness and compassion, or just lending a helpful hand, whatever your " seed of desire" is, I encourage you to take it out and keep it a secret no more, plant it, nurture it, and watch it grow. Let loose that dream "seed" you have been harboring in your heart, let the dream awaken and live and breathe.

In the closing lines of the book, Mary says, "The secret garden is always open now. Open and awake, and alive. If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden." There is plenty of room for all of us to bloom!

Inside this tiny trinket box I have placed a few pink silk and organza rose petals upon which rest some strange round black seeds. They are in no way attractive or active at this point. You must plant them in fertile soil, nurture them, water them, and encourage them to grow. Frances Hodgson Burnett did not grow up in a fertile environment, nor were her circumstances made easier by changing geographical location, nor were they made better when she suffered two failed marriages, the loss of one of her beloved sons, and bouts of deep debilitating depression, these things did not hinder Frances. She forged ahead into the fertile field of words and left a legacy of one of the most enduring children's books in literature, The Secret Garden. The enclosed seeds are from a flowering plant that is four generations old in my family, my start of them came from my grandmother. Notice from the photo that there are not many seeds, this is because it does not take many of theses seeds to start a bountiful plant, you only really need one if you nurture it properly. These flowers flourish where others would languish, such as in hot or windy climates and they flower almost anywhere in the US. The lovely thing about them is that once they flower they reseed themselves and will grow into a thing of lush beauty. They are called 4 O'clocks because that is the time of day they bloom. A little late in the day for blooming you say, not really, this is just like God to give us another lesson in nature and I give you this little trinket box as a visual reminder, that "A bit of earth" is all we are given and it is never too late to bloom where you are planted! (Tune in after 4 O'clock today to see the above beauties in full bloom!) I watched this little beauty unfurl today at a little after 4 O'clock, amazing!

JUST A NOTE: Please note that I will no longer sign off as Sandy B. - Everyone calls me Miss Sandy and I have had several friends say that I should change it because it suits me better, so from here on in I will remain yours, Miss Sandy.

Photos: 1. Image of vintage book, The Secret Garden; 2-4 The undecorated book box for the Give Away; 4 -6 The first "goodie" for the box; 7. 4 O'clock's before 4 O'clock ; 8. 4 O'clock's unfuling a little after 4 O'clock!


FrenchGardenHouse said...

oh, my, this is such an absolute W o n d e r f u l post!

The music is perfect, the stories you tell, sigh, my heart is full.
I, too, as a child growing up in Europe, had my own "library"! I loved it when my friends from school would come to my room to "check out" a book. And nothing was as thrilling as walking home with a stack of books for the week from the "real" library.

Sandy, thank you for making me have such a sweet memory moment!

Lenna Andrews said...

Miss Sandy,
I so enjoyed your post; what a wonderful idea! I too read the Secret Garden when I was a young girl. I am sure my mother, who gave it to me could relate, as she was an orphan too, later happily adopted. : ) lenna

Ele at abitofpinkheaven said...

This post is absolutely wonderful. I understand how you feel about reading and love the story of the library in your living room. My mother was a teacher and she gave me the pocket card left over from the books in her classroom. My dolls were the children in my library. My husband and I have since raised 3 children with a love for reading. Some of my children are grown and to my delight when they arrived at colleges far away, they called and said, "mom, you should see the library!" Thank you for this glorious opportunity to win this wonderful box you are putting together. You made me smile at EVERYTHING you wrote. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Miss Sandy --
I would love to participate in your give away. Anything you give...I will be first in line. Love your little story about reading with your mommy. I love to read as well......and what a beautiful picture, the two of you.
Thank you for sharing a little corner of your life with us.

Nunnie's Attic said...

Karen Eileen sent me over her and what a treat! I absolutely loved the Uncle Remus stories. I had a huge book as a child and my brother (11 years older) would read them to me. I can still hear him, sitting in the living room telling the story of the Money wagon. Well, Brer Bear scratch his head like his common sense don't tell him nothing. Ah, what sweet memories for me this morning!!


Jill said...

I love The Secret Garden, too. I was always giving a fine copy of it as gifts to my young nieces and other little girls, usually far before they could read! Your seed box is a wonderful inspiration, as well.

Anonymous said...

Miss Sandy, This is the first time I've had the pleasure of reading your's beautiful, peaceful and inspirational. You have blessed me...may God bless you today and always! Sincerely, Cheryl

aBookworm said...

I fell in love with this book as a young girl and I'm so glad I stumbled across your site and found this contest. Do count me in! I'm also going to go ahead and post about in my book blog :

LW said...

Miss Sandy,

What a delightful story about your mom. “The Secret Garden” is one of my favorite books, I have read it
to each of my children and again to myself just a few years ago. I have a little wooden doll named Mary,
I must remember to take some pictures of her and her garden items and post them on my blog.
Think I will get a cup of coffee and read more of your blog.

Louise …..

Pamela Jane said...

Love the way you weave your stories! Will visit again.

Alison Gibbs said...

Just loved reading about your Mother reading to you. What wonderful memories.

Lori said...

Love your blog and would be beside myself if I was lucky enough to win!

Sharon said...

Miss Sandy, what a wonderful post. I look forward to reading more and watching to see what you will be adding to the treasure book. Loved hearing you tell of your Mother reading to you, it's one of my fond memories of my own dear Mother.

Anonymous said...

My favorite book of my childhood! How I love The Secret Garden still. I would love to be entered in your drawing-and I will visit your blog again soon. Becky

Sweet Remembrance said...

I love The Secret Garden...
Your post is wonderful!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful, memory-filled post. I have never read the Secret Garden, but I have loved to read since I was about 6 or 7 and my sister bought me a copy of the book, "Little House on the Prairie". I read that book until it literally fell apart. Now I am a mother of seven and I am instilling in my children the love of reading. We read together daily.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Fascinating information well told...I had no idea the story behind the book and the author. You make me want to know more!

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