Friday, October 15, 2010

Bridges and Stiles

When I walk, I think. During the hike we took to Alfriston, I was thinking about names. My maiden name comes from the word 'bridge', my married name, from the word 'stile.' Both bridges and stiles are structures built to connect or span boundaries.  And I married across a border and ... etc  Something cosmic in all that.  These are the kinds of things I think about when walking.

Anyway, I was thinking about this because of all the stiles we crossed over, like the one in the picture between two fields near Alfriston.  These are very common in England, where there are a lot of public right-of-ways that cross over privately-owned fields.

By the way, I learned the word 'style/stile' from my paternal grandmother who used to recite a poem/story about an old woman who bought a pig. It had a repeating refrain, 'piggy won't go over the stile and I shan't get home tonight.' ( Click here if you want the whole amazingly gruesome poem.) If you look at the picture of the stile, you can see why the old woman had trouble getting the piggy to go over.

Anyway, on the Alfriston walk we also saw another kind of stile called a 'kissing gate'.  You have to have a certain level of fitness to cross over a regular stile - you must climb up and down. Plus, if you are pushing a stoller or a wheelchair it's difficult at best.  But a 'kissing gate' is easier to go through.

This is how they work.  Imagine a square bounded by 4 posts. 

                                                   A                B

                                                   C                D

Two sides (connecting posts A & B, and B&D) are fenced.  The fourth post (C) has a swinging gate, which moves between A and D.  To go through you move the gate until you can slip around it by standing in the corner by B, where the gate doesn't reach. I snapped this complete stranger standing in the corner (B), about to come through (between C and D.)

I have no idea why it's called a 'kissing gate.'  There is no kissing involved in the traverse.  And I'm not sure it would have helped the old woman with her piggy. In fact, I think that's the point - animals can't get through them, but people can.

1 comment:

David Briggs said...

Could "Kissing Gate" have come from "Kissing Close"?