Charlie’s Garden

A Secret Sanctuary

Story and Photos by Karlene Bayok Edwards

I wish I had let Paul kiss me that night in Charlie’s Garden, with the sun dropping behind the mountains, the moon reflecting off Payette Lake, the dusky air warm on my face. He held my hand as we walked, stopping here, near a stone bench, there, beside a worn limestone fountain. Below us, down a series of carved steps, stretched meadow grasses bounded by fir trees and larch. Roses bloomed on the far side, their silhouettes glimmering above the water. I had never seen an old-fashioned garden before, not one like this with curved pathways and unexpected nooks. Not one rose-scented and silent. Not a hidden garden at dusk with a boy. We didn’t speak.

I’m not sure why I remember the garden so clearly, except for the surprise of it. Although I had grown up less than three miles away, I hadn’t known it existed. Even so, it seemed familiar, as if I had dreamed it into being. I expected to find a wooden gate draped with ivy and a robin chirring over an ages-lost key. There, in the twilight, I felt as I had when I first read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.

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Karlene Bayok Edwards

About Karlene Bayok Edwards

Karlene Bayok Edwards grew up in McCall and graduated from McCall-Donnelly High School. She volunteered at the McCall Library and later had a thirty-four-year career as a school librarian. She earned degrees in English literature and library science in Arizona, where she and her husband settled. Now retired, she writes from the vivid memories of her childhood and from the Idaho backcountry stories told by her parents, Joe and Marcella Bayok.