Beatrice, though shy also liked to write her thoughts, wrote to of November, in vingetes on scrap paper, taking note of seasons passing or just to remember. On this first morning cold, Beatrice needed thick socks, and her fleece jacket warm, now fifteen years old. “Godfrey left it to me, she wrote, merino wool knit, burgundy and gold, with name of a sailing ship and dragon crest embroidered on one arm”. Beatrice cherished the baggy jacket cold days on the farm. there were clearly signs of age and wear, cuffs gone, elbows darned, marks from sparks of campfire, nicked pocket on barbed wire when she hopped the paddock fence. Or perhaps Godfrey did that, (he never used the gate). ” I suppose , she pondered, one day it will just disintegrate.”
He wrote me when he won the jacket in a pool game. “I sought the small town pub a Sunday afternoon. To sip lemonade, sit quiet pen and notebook in hand. As befits a vagabond all did not go as planned…twas a cool day in Temuka I wandered to the pub, I could hear the singing from inside, smell the lovely aroma of fish and chips being fried. “I stowed my suitcase by the bar, the room was strum with soft guitar, “Sad Movies” being sung by a group in the corner. A cricket match was on the old T.V.. Small town folk over beer regarded me, laughing at the tourist in my jacket, shredded sleeve, they were welcoming though, not nasty. Introductions all about, the bar-keeps mother’s name was Daphne, we chatted over dislike of beets and the small town of Temuka.
She boldly asked of my sleeve, chewed off by errant calves. “I said I thought I hung it in a place calves could not get, but they did” Daphne’s son was playing pool, she talked him into a wee bet. She hollarred, “look at this nice chap, chewed by calves and woebegone, play him for a fish dinner and the flash sailor’s fleece you have on”. His name was Mata, a very large fellow, mainly composed of leather and tattoo. I had never even held a pool cue.
The pub had filled, the singing from the back corner stilled. I broke with a crack, shot a bank, two lucky smancks and an elegant caroom. I potted every ball, there were photos of old times, race horses and rugby players on the wall.
Very late that night we had the best fish dinner ever, and I spent the whole of Monday with the group who had been singing, dipping sheep for parasites together. Enjoyed another evening and hard fought pool game, Sunday I had came a stranger who disliked beets, on Tuesday sank my last eight ball…the ship’s name on the sleeve of my fine, new jacket is “Windfall”.
Beatrice has never lost the hill walker’s stride of her youth long ago. She pauses to listen to the land, wood smoke smell of early winter, damp wool, distant pig-pen. Halter and lead in hand she heads toward her farm’s north end. old friend P.T. The Good has his wagon parked near now, retired from the road. She will visit him tomorrow, but is out to fetch the Belgian mare, her goats and ponies will follow.
Neath the apple trees, cheeky goat faces, perfect trees to scratch itchy places, soft, frosty nickers of mare’s welcome. They have, the donkeys, goats and horses, eaten up the apples and pears as every autumn they do. Pockets are nosed for treats, leave traces of horse slobber green down the sleeves of her old fleece. It has been a fine year…thick manes for cold hands tucked under gently warm..a November passage for Beatrice, in Wales on Sonsie Farm..