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Entrance to Mystery

The main path down my back garden stretches wide and straight, an avenue drawing the eye along. Except now, it's blocked by the tangled branches of the fallen apple tree. Standing in front of that green barrier, I feel pulled toward it. Why?

Past the downed tree, the path continues into the woods, where deep shade gives a certain mystery. There are other paths into that area — but it's not the same: there's more magic on the path that's closed.

From the woods behind it, I approach the reclining tree; I climb onto its trunk, walk along it until the branches get in the way, sit on it and contemplate: is the mystery here, in the tree and its dramatic transition?

No, it's only out in front, where expectations, created by the perspective of the path, are so suddenly thwarted. It makes me want to walk up to the barricade, and magically pass through. It makes me imagine there is a gateway to a different world here, a garden I have never seen.

In some garden I visited once, the tour guide pointed out a huge piece of shrubbery which had an open space inside, and added that it was okay to go in. I loved the protected feeling of being enclosed by the living green, hidden from view. I felt like a kid, sheltered from all the demands of adult life, resting in a simpler existence.

If I could pass through my mystery gate, what might I see on the other side? What secret gardens are drawing me to them, what fantasies are so flighty I won't even let myself imagine creating them in reality? What alternate worlds pull at me, places where other choices might have created other landscapes?

Could I go back in time to when this house was built, a hundred-odd years ago, see the apple tree being planted, the old striped rose and the daylilies? What did the garden look like then, what was the design?

Could I discover a magic garden to shelter and nourish the kid in me, who needs a special place to be alone?

Let's see, now ... how did that prince get through the wall of roses to Sleeping Beauty? How did ten-year-old Mary Lennox find the key to the door of the secret garden at Misselthwaite Manor? How do I qualify to cross this enchanted threshold; what magic word have I forgotten?

© Copyright 2003 Catherine Holmes Clark

Published in the six Nashoba Publications papers on Friday, 3 October 2003

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