Where in all your wanders, was the best of the sun you asked? It was the little island of the weeping sands, Waiheke. Looking at his maps, tattered atlas, remnants of poetry, while the story was told to me .. of long ago when Godfrey came as I did to Waiheke.
I did not expect adventure when I set out from the city down to the cool harbor side from streets noisy and hot. Walked my bike onto the ferry , there were cheerful island folk with camper vans and aged cars, bound across the gulf to Waiheke, the island on his map that Godfrey circled in stars.
I was nearing the end of my year of travel, money spent, one more week before I would have to go. I sought a place that would welcome a hobo girl like me, on Waiheke, and the weeping sands of Onetangi.
Up the first steep hill , the Cicadas shrill in the late summer morning, left the water of the gulf below, the island road narrow, rutted gravel. Dry grass tickled my knees and the ocean breeze, a sweaty grip on my handlebars..and the long coast downhill to Onetangi, on the island Godfrey circled in stars.
Twas at the Youth Hostel I first heard of Godfrey. He named the house “Stella Maris”-little star of the sea. “Godfrey stayed with us one year” said Miss Kydd who was the Warden, an odd young man but his stay was legendary. Miss Kydd let me read the old guest books, from when Godfrey arrived in 1983. In the evenings curled up on the couch on the porch, with the setting sun and pot of peppermint tea. He left drawings, and stories and the parsley garden he planted out back, left decendents of the chickens he raised,snippets of verse, and words of wisdom on the joy of learning how to surf.
He wrote- “What a delight to be pummeled by a wave”! “Oh for the chuck and rumble as I tumble upside down”! “Shake my shaggy hair of rainbows, blow salt water from my nostrils , with no fear of beets or hostiles, all worries left far away in city and town.
” Miss Marjorie Kydd writes- “When we all first met Godfrey he was sat writing intensely , looking out from the tearooms to the beach at low tide. It had rained overnight and the heater was a glow, hung beside which his socks and underthings dried.
” Godfrey’s pink bicycle was propped against the ice-cream sign outside”. “Some did laugh at Godfrey, in his odd swimming “Cossie”, of rugged plaid wool, it resembled dungarees”. When asked he said his Ma knit him the “cossie” long ago, it had straps across the back and patches on both knees..”very comfy and quick drying” he told everyone.
He refused to speak of beets, but called our peaceful island “Best of The Sun”. Godfrey whistled and sang as he worked about the hostel, planted pumpkins, fenced a paddock for the donkey I kept as a pet. His auburn hair was long and sun bleached from time in salt and sea, he surf cast for snapper at early morn and sundown, shared his catch with the hostelers and me.
At low tide he’d often dig a bath between the sandbars, where hot springs are a natural wonder of the weeping sands, a gift from the island Godfrey circled in stars.
“He stayed with us one year, a waiting a ship to take him far across the ocean to Peru”..said Miss Kydd. He was an odd young man, but I knew we would miss him when he sailed and we did”. The old guest book has a page written by Godfrey- words still significant to me. “There are places, he wrote, that will remain in my heart, that every where I go like a grain of sand I’ll carry.
“May the forces of change be ever kind to fair Waiheke” “Oh island of peace may your sands never weep in the shadow of “progresses” scars..best of the sun Waiheke, the island I have circled in stars”..