One of the things I do appreciate about being back in Norway is spring. In Tokyo, it was already spring by my standards when I arrived. During the two months I spent there we had both cool and warm weather - even snow - but nothing even close to the dramatic process that is Norwegian spring. Without the melting snow, the "ad hoc" creeks in the middle of the road, the return of migrant birds and sunshine after what feels like an incredibly long absence - Tokyo spring just didn't feel like spring.
Because of my lack of spring mood, I also didn't indulge in one of my annual spring activities - reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It was my favourite book as a child, and I've continued reading it every spring. The timing is essential. It cannot be too early, since a return to winter after I've started reading it will always put me in a terrible mood. At the same time, I cannot read it too late, as the turn of spring into summer completely ruins the experience. I want the world around me to wake up to spring along with the garden in the book.
Now I've been given a new opportunity to perform my ritual this year. When I returned to Norway it was winter. In just little over a week, it is definitely spring. The snow is melting faster than I've ever seen. The sun is warming, and my nose is as freckled as it only gets this time of year. I feel the urge to take off my winter coat and boots again, and it won't be long till it's time to look for the first brave flowers.
This is the perfect timing for reading The Secret Garden.
"Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And marigolds all in a row."
|"There was a laurel-hedged walk which curved round the secret garden and ended at a gate which opened into a wood, in the park. She thought she would slip round this walk and look into the wood and see if there were any rabbits hopping about."|
" 'This here one he's called Nut an' this here other one's called Shell.'
When he said 'Nut' one squirrel leaped onto his right shoulder and when he said 'Shell' the other one leaped on to his left shoulder."
All excerpts from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, from The Collected Works of Frances Hodgson Burnett (Kindle edition). All pictures taken by yours truly, on three continents.