THE LAST MANDARIN ORANGE- Song For The Wairau, By Godfrey

Godfrey loved the old time folksingers, loved the bush balladeers, he was never prideful, but happily wrote about anything, any thing but beets..here is one of his happy songs..

I had had the good fortune, to be in a place with chickens, tending them and other chores, meant I could stay there for free.  I planted pumpkins and wrote poems that summer, the six weeks it took to heal when I injured my knee, twas 1983.

By late December I was back on my pink bike, riding into the wind up the wide Wairau Valley.    Oh! the pleasure of the river beside me, peddling slow. Suitcase strapped on behind!   I sing to the wind blowing hot down from the mountains, what adventures ahead I will find !.

And I know I have an orange, a mandarin orange stowed in my suitcase deep.  I will find that orange before the sun sets, on the banks of the Wairau River I will sleep.     Oh, she’s boulders and wide at the shingle fan, glacier shades blue and gray, pooling  deep. Where the dusty track ends at waterside an orange waits where I stop, end of a good days ride.

I asked, “may I camp?”, was told “just mind close the gate” Been sitting, day dreaming, but must find that plump orange soon for the hour grows late.   Made my bed  in the grass deeply grown, a swim to wash the tiredness away, stretch belly down to smell  the good earth, been too long in town, too long since I’ve been alone.

Dumped my suitcase out…and twixt good shirt and biscuit tin, I found my orange, the last mandarin.     I peeled it carefully, all in one piece, making a wish as I had since a boy. Picked all the white, stringy bits off to, savored each segment with joy.

“The river paused, as if to listen, then she rolled on with a whispered, “Wait for me’…  “I heard the Wairau speaking to the distant ocean, as I sat eating my orange, wrote Godfrey.

He wrote, “I carry the scar for life, it spans my right knee”. ” I write this song for the good Doctor, who sewed it back on for me”. ” For the summer I lived among the kind people, make their homes up the  Wairau Valley.

I had stopped to lean over, watch the clean, rushing water, from a rickety one lane bridge. A friendly chap stopped to, gave me a bag of mandarins, they were  still cold from his fridge.  I was biking uphill, he was off into town, I had the very last mandarin as the fading rays, of sun soothed the flat-irons of the distant peaks as it slid down.

Warm in my bed of grass deep, alone with my dreams, by the mighty Wairau I sleep..

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4 thoughts on “THE LAST MANDARIN ORANGE- Song For The Wairau, By Godfrey

  1. “Too long since I’ve been alone.” I know that feeling; more than most of my acquaintances, I need my private time. I think that’s why I enjoyed Godfrey’s song so much. How about you, Sheila? Are you comfortable in your own company?

  2. Thank you Janet, Yes, possibly more than most, I glory in my alone- a- tude. I get very claustrophobic ,when the warehouse is stacked with boxes or anyone standing behind me, I, like Godfrey have lived in and sought out remote places without fear. I entered an old mine shaft once, just to feel the sensation. Must have been squashed in a previous lifetime. When i tented, was paranoid of being backed over by a Winnebago…Odd person, eh.?

    • I thought you’d be another capable of being quite happy by yourself. But, really, being run over by a Winnebago? What a hilarious idea. I’ve seen some pass by me on the highway with a driving who looked crazed enough to back over an innocent sleeping in a tent. My friend and yours too, Mercy or Mary, used to camp by herself in a van along the California coast. I admired her pluck. She probably didn’t know about wild Winnebagos.

  3. Thank you Janet, yes I fear Winnebagos and moths. A Danish friend and I got dropped off latish one night by a pervey man who would not go away. We hopped a fence and sacked out on a grassy bit I thought was a golf course. Woke to sunny morning and a large jet coming in for a landing over our hillock. I could look up at the rivets and faces gawping out the windows, We legged it back over the fence as the security car bore down. I never worried about aircraft landing on me in my sleeping bag..just those dratted Winnebagos..

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