It was to the stile that I would take my date. First we had dinner with my family, then we went hand-in-hand to the stile (I thought everyone had a stile to the garden!), and we would sit on the top step and talk, maybe kiss, smell the tomatoes, until, invariably, the back screen door would whine open, and Dad’s voice would interrupt, only 15 feet away through the Locust trees, “You kids doing anything out there?” It wasn’t really a question. It was more interpreted by my dates as, “You kids are NOT doing anything out there!” And my date would surreptitiously slip away from me a couple inches – not even close enough for kissing.
I had three young suitors go through the dating ritual with me – one became an attorney and politician here in Spokane; one became a missionary and preacher; and I married the third, had two sons, and after seven years we parted.
There was Magic in the garden stile. It was safe and there was a special aura around it – as if little fairies would float up from the garden itself. My sister also “dated” at the garden stile. I’m fairly certain we were the last virgins in Spokane County and it’s probably because of the stile.
Or maybe it was my Dad. It’s kind of hard to fool around when your Dad keeps appearing on the back porch.