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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