There’s a sky map, gadget thingy on my new phone. (that I have still never used to call anyone). Aimed at the night sky, it tells me the star I am looking at, planet and constellation. This morning I stood, watching flickering Mars, bright and high above clouds to the east. I felt Godfrey beside me, in the wet parking lot of a bank holding skyward a phone. I recalled his laughter, when he told this story, of a starless nights walk down the road to Moeraki alone..
It’s not deeply compelling, no wisdom, much point to the telling, or profundity, just a typical outing without really looking, or modern day gadgets adventure found Godfrey.
“Was a summer day south of Ashburton, he wrote me. “I arranged to meet friends , not a long hitch away in Moeraki. One of those spots of mystery, of serenity, a beach where from the cliff sides odd, round boulders calve, tumble down as perfect spheres, all sizes to the edge of the sea. There’s a small cafe’ and loo in a parking lot. Hitching I always got a ride, this day I did not get far, a short lift in a firetruck, a hearse, and two chaps named Herb in the same make of car..
Come early evening I flagged a bus, a rare thing for me to do, all was well until it broke down with a clank, just out of Timaru. Having stayed at the haunted hostel there, I waited about for the lengthy repair. The driver thought me crazy, reluctant to drop me at 2: 00 a.m. by the dark turnoff, the road down to Moeraki.
Shaking his head, he roared away in the bus, round the bend out of sight. There I stood with my suitcase- How huge the night!! Distant grumble of sea, not a star above or moonlight near about me. I groped cross the highway guided only by the sandy road. If anything lurked, we would have scared, the living crap out of each other. I whistled a tune that used to annoy my mother.
Sensed the end of the road, felt gravel below my boots, bonked into the light less cafe’ loo off to the right, felt my way to a grassy patch and sacked out for the night. I smelled sheep, hoping I was not near a tumble-turd as I fell to warm, deep sleep.
In the cool, coastal Otago dawn, I slept through sunrise, woke slowly to voices, elderly voices, indignant voices, saying, “Be careful Jessy, look a dirty hippie, a vagabond! There was frightful muttering as they got off a bus. “He may be a seven sided miss-begot, I shall take up my stout handbag, Jessy, and move him on his way with a swat”.
They were the Fairlie Town Old Ladie’s Home Lawn Bowling Club, out early on a loo break at the boulders. And my comfy grassy spot was the middle of the parking lot. Angry Lawn Bowler Raewyn bravely stalked near, handbag raised, battle plan etched on her face. I was in my sleeping bag still, kilt draped over my black and red suitcase.
I introduced my self as Godfrey, before she clobbered me, mentioned I disliked beets, but would talk of anything else over pastries and tea.
There is magic found in rare places like Moeraki, there is legend in the winds, where round boulders calve from the cliffs to the sea. Walk the beach early morning, you may hear the words, if it is meant to be. I never met up with my friends at Moeraki..surfatted by seascapes, in love they journeyed on. But the ladies who lawn bowled and I had a fine chat, in that misty Otago dawn.
What is a seven sided miss-begot? I thought. Godfrey had been called so many things. I raise my phone now to the stars, it worries me not in bow-legged old age, my fancy gadget rarely rings. I laugh when I picture him on that dark road, with no familiar star to guide, worlds away from the parking lot where I stand, always with me, always at my side.