On a recent hike along a trail turned dusty with summer use, I crossed paths with a friend I hadn’t seen for a while. Her bright smile and warm greeting matched her hiking attire — a brilliant magenta shirt, flashy crimson hat and spruced-up walking shoes. I complimented her on her outfit, suddenly conscious of my drab khakis, misshapen black hat and muddy boots.
She laughed, “Well, I guess I’m doing everything I can these days to bring more color into the world. It’s the least I can do!”
Next time out, I upgraded to mostly turquoise, head-to-toe, including mountain décor socks and my vintage Hokas. Much more fun.
Our chance meeting reminded me of a favorite children’s book, The Night Gardener, and its timeless message about change, creativity, coming alive and living fully. As with so many classic picture books, this beautifully illustrated, brief story is a reminder for all ages to make the most of each day by adding in something special.
Several pages of artwork coax us into the book and set the scene in a quiet town. Nothing much ever happens on Grimloch Lane. The folks who live there simply exist, going through daily motions without spark, without growth, without joy. No one notices a stranger enter their midst in the daylight, not even the young orphan boy, William. The gentleman quietly passes by on the sidewalk, carrying his ladder and tools.
But that night, magic begins to take shape through the work of the Night Gardener. The next morning, William hears a commotion outside on his street. A small crowd has discovered a majestic owl topiary, formed in the tree right beside William’s window. Each night following, William goes to sleep with new excitement, because every morning, he and the townsfolk discover yet another fresh tree topiary sculpture.
First a rabbit, then a parakeet, followed by an elephant, even a dragon.
Something good is happening on Grimloch Lane. New energy and wonder, new levity and light. So curious, one evening William finally decides to follow the Night Gardener, who invites the boy to help him with his work. Together they turn the entire town park into a menagerie of animals, color, imagination and fun. Everything and everyone comes alive … and thrives!
Eventually, the Night Gardener departs to go his own way, seeking a new place in need of refreshment. He leaves William with a special gift to remember him by and to carry on. The autumn leaves drop and winter arrives on Grimloch Lane. But, life has changed for the better, and no one, especially William, will ever view it in the same way.
Award-winning author/illustrator team, The Fan Brothers, publish another gem with The Night Gardener. (CO YOGA + Life featured their picture book, The Scarecrow, in the Summer + Fall 2022 Renewal issue.) This time, Terry and Eric share their words and images in a message about living each day to the fullest by bringing more imagination, color and joy into the world.
Note: Not to be mistaken for The Night Gardener, an adult crime novel by George Pelecanos or The Night Gardener, a middlegrade Victorian ghost story by Jonathan Auxier.
Originally published in Summer + Fall 2023 issue of Colorado YOGA + life.
SANDY FERGUSON FULLER
Author, Editor + Illustrator