First, I must mention that I’d been drooling over this book ever since I first heard about it in the latter part of 2019, because I’m a longtime fan of both Marilyn’s and Marjorie’s work. Marilyn’s talent and versatility are boundless; not only is she muy prolific, she’s an author and poet who continues to delight us with her inimitable ingenuity.
♥️ Special thanks to Marian from the Netherlands for inspiring me to write this post. 🙂
“You can have as much earth as you want,” he said. “You remind me of someone else who loved the earth and things that grow. When you see a bit of earth you want,” with something like a smile, “take it, child, and make it come alive.” ~ Archibald Craven (Frances Hodgson Burnett’s, The Secret Garden)
Guess who’s turning 60 on September 10?
Hint: he knows how to rock a waistcoat and cravat, is fluent in Italian, plays the guitar to relax, likes to tease fellow actor Gary Oldman about the size of his *ahem* manhood, almost voiced Paddington Bear in the movies, looks good WET (dry, and in-between), and even if you cook blue soup, he likes you just as you are.
Yes, it’s Colin, aka my secret husband (SO secret, even he doesn’t know about it). Fine specimen of a human being, don’t you think? Doesn’t look a day over 39. 🙂
Unless you look at him playing Archibald Craven in the new Secret Garden movie. Have you seen it yet? They were all set for a big UK cinema premiere back in April, followed by the U.S. in August. But of course the pandemic changed everything, so instead, the movie went straight to video on demand beginning August 7, and will now open in UK cinemas October 23.
Colin, Colin, Colin, you’ve never looked so wretched, weary, or downtrodden. But Archibald is, of course, consumed with grief over the loss of his wife, making him inaccessible to his son and unable to properly care for his newly orphaned niece Mary Lennox, who comes to stay at Misselthwaite Manor.
This new 2020 version (don’t worry, I promise not to be too spoilerish), is the fourth produced for the big screen, and Colin was attracted to the role because of the lavish garden scenes (which unlike previous films, were not confined to a single, walled-in area, but features an expansive, wide ranging terrain representing Mary’s unbounded imagination), as well as the “design concepts” of the castle, which really became a symbol for Archibald’s state of mind: dark, destructive, depressive. The creepiness of the house is highly atmospheric and underscores the tragic decline of what was once a joyful life.
Colin doesn’t get much screen time in the new movie; this makes sense since the story revolves primarily around the three young people: Mary, Colin Craven, and Dickon. The time period has been moved up to 1947, after WWII, instead of the early 1900’s as the book was originally set, and there is a new “character,” a stray dog named Jemima (later Hector, when his gender is confirmed), who helps lead Mary to the garden wall and gate key along with the robin.
The spirit remains true to the original — the transformation of sickly, morose, isolated children into happy and healthier souls who blossom and thrive with newfound friendship, fresh air, good and nourishing food, and the magic of making things come alive.
Did you know this was the second time Colin appeared in a Secret Garden adaptation? Thirty-three years ago, when he was just 27, he played an adult Colin Craven in the 1987 Hallmark TV movie that’s told as a flashback from the POV of an adult Mary. Colin only appears at the very end, when he reunites with Mary after the war . . . and there’s romance!
So it seems fated that Colin appear in these films, since there is a ‘Colin’ who has a major role in the novel, and he actually played this Colin years ago. Something else that’s cool about the 1987 version is that it was filmed at Highclere Castle. As a Downton Abbey fan, I enjoyed seeing familiar exteriors and interiors. 🙂
In addition to studio sets, the new 2020 movie was filmed at various gardens around England and North Wales, on location in Yorkshire, and at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire. Knebworth is a cool place all its own, known for hosting awesome rock concerts (Stones, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Eric Clapton), and has been a choice setting for many other films, including “Nanny McPhee” and “The King’s Speech.” I imagine Colin feels quite at home there. 🙂
The Secret Garden is one of my top three all-time favorite children’s novels, so it’s really icing on the cake to see Colin, however briefly, in two of the movies. Revisiting this classic, whether between the covers or up on a screen, tends to make me hungry because hearty farm-fresh Yorkshire fare helped restore Mary and Colin to optimum health. Okay, time to eat.
1. Here’s the perfect cheer-up: cut paper collages courtesy of UK illustrator and surface pattern artist Tracey English!
Love her refreshing style, pretty colors, uplifting subjects, and appealing compositions. Tracey lives in SW London with her husband, two sons, a cat named Jelly and their dog Daisy. If I do say so myself, she has the *best* surname. 🙂
She uses hand painted papers in all her pieces, and has worked for such clients as Quarry Books, Bloomsbury Publishing, Design House Greeting, and Calypso Cards.
One can’t help but feel happy when looking at her pictures; she has such a joyous spirit! I mean — ice cream sundaes, birthday tea, blue pots, birdies in cups! Does she know me or what?
Every afternoon at two-fifteen they come,
a procession of chairs and walkers,
or unaided in a slow and ponderous shuffle,
backs hunched against the unkindness of time,
to assemble in the great room for tea.
They enjoy this ritual —
the sturdy cups of Orange Pekoe,
cookies and squares that break up a day,
words exchanged, sometimes even heard,
by folk whose paths might not have crossed before.
It’s a slow dance, led by invisible partners.
It’s the last dance, and they’re saving it
for every afternoon at two-fifteen.
Nursing homes have been in the news a lot lately. After all, it was a nursing home — the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington — that first warranted our serious concern about COVID-19’s community spread in the U.S. back in late February.
We learned that the elderly were the most vulnerable, and that many residents as well as caregivers had been lost or were fighting for their lives across the country.
When I stumbled upon this lovely poem by Canadian poet Linda Crosfield recently, I couldn’t help but view it through the lens of the pandemic. The cherished ritual of afternoon tea took on an added poignancy as I thought of those who no longer have the joy of a “last dance” to look forward to.
As it turns out, though, there was a bright spot, a glimmer of hope.
When I contacted Linda to ask for permission to share her poem, she provided a little backstory about it:
I wrote “Tea at Jubilee Manor” when my aunt was living there. It’s a nursing home in Nelson, BC. She died at 102 in 2012. Now my mother is in the same place and she’s turning 100 on June 3rd. Sadly, it won’t be quite the celebration we’d always planned. Can’t see her in person. No hugs. No flowers. Gifts frowned on. But we can send in one of those little airline-sized bottles of gin and some tonic and we will toast her over the fence on the day.
Now the poem is even more meaningful. Though I was sorry to hear Linda and her family won’t be able to celebrate this landmark birthday in person, I was so relieved that her mom is okay and would indeed be observing a rare milestone next week.
Would you like to meet Daisy? Here she is:
Have you ever seen such a beautiful face, such a wonderful smile? Oh, the people she’s met, the things and places she’s seen, the love she’s shared in 100 years! And she’s given us a poet!
Oh, look — it’s 2:15! In honor of Daisy’s birthday on Wednesday, we’ve set up a little afternoon tea. Please help yourself to some marble cake, dark chocolate pretzels, lemon, oat, and chocolate chip cookies, and of course, a warm cup of Orange Pekoe.
If not for Linda’s poem, our paths might never have crossed. Just as her heartening words suggest, we must follow the lead of our wise elders by rejoicing in simple pleasures and cherishing each moment as it comes, with gratitude that it’s been given.
There’s much to be said, especially in tough, unpredictable times, about treating each slow dance as your last.
While you nibble and sip, enjoy this mini gallery of seniors and Samantha Reynolds’s poem, as a way of honoring those we’ve lost, those we’ve found, and those we’ve yet to meet. Not to be forgotten, devalued, discounted or sacrificed, but revered, respected and treasured.
Let’s celebrate the merry month of May with Allyn Howard’slovely, winsome art. 🙂
Allyn is a painter living and working in Brooklyn, NY. I was immediately drawn to her pretty florals and charming animals. One can’t help but feel uplifted by her cheerful colors and playful, childlike designs.
Originally from Virginia, where she received her BFA from VCU in Communication Arts and Design, she went on to earn an MFA in Studio Art from NYU.
My work reflects my interest in the wonders of nature, often from the vantage point of small curious animals. I use water based acrylics on wood, paper and canvas, merging a decorative style with a colorful painterly one. My work is inspired by friendship, a sense of home and the discovery and sense of wonder observing the big beautiful world.
She excels in surface design; her fine detailed work lends itself well to fabrics, wallpaper, gift wrap, and a variety of personal accessories. Of course all her adorable animal friends brim with kid appeal (a selection of fine art prints, perfect for hanging in children’s rooms, is available via Oopsy Daisy).