Yes, he was feeling better, as his letter was written on a bakery bag from a cake shop in the Otago town of Clyde…With his usual odd treasures, several polished stones, two blue Pukeko feathers, an old silver florin tucked inside. “I am picking apricots he wrote, taking a cake break neath my fruit tree, do not worry , all is well”. I knew Godfrey, knew by the slant of pen, his was not an easy story to tell….
…January vignettes, “Godfrey worried me the year that he did not write. For I know that life is not all dancing past the stormy days, that yes it guides you home as well as off the path to shelter. Can leave you gaping in wonder, or rolled up shivering, alone at night. Geese graze on the grass below my loft window. Hear them bickering ,hear the click of paws on porch, low woof of the old dog, “Barley”. Soft thud as the postie drops a packet off, too big for the mailbox.
Pad down in my socks, a heavy package, addressed “From Godfrey”. It is a good day for to read, early I feed and tend my pets, sneck deep by the fire to read his January vignettes. Southern Hemisphere Summer, he writes, “I am sitting on a sandbar, monitoring Dottrells that are nesting- 8 pair. They are rare and need protecting, from humans stomping on the dunes and dangers lurking there. “When in need of solace, when I need to just “be”, I make the journey here to Opoutere” “It is a long hike in, the road runs narrow, winds around the big estuary”. It is the edge of the world, a place of healing, legend and dark mystery. Worry not for Godfrey, friends I have here who understand without words. (And Dottrells are the sweetest little birds)
Reading a tattered book of the local history, scruffy couch on the verandah facing open sea- a haven for the vagabond, an old off track school property. Evening is spent playing guitars, or just sitting companionably. I have a cave like bunk neath the window in a room, head out to the sandbar at dawn. I sleep a lot these days as summer rambles on. Being far from town, we are living off garden and sea. Netted flounder today, picked oysters and mussels for our tea. Fell over in the mud laughing, got a bit of sunburn netting fish, muddy head to foot, wrote Godfrey. What have brought me to this gathering ground? This haven I know well, Opoutere? Never thought I’d hit this low point in my life, always having had a larrikin out look, deep sadness today is a bolster for my notebook.
Spirit and destiny faced off on the high wood bridge twixt woods and estuary, fought with the simple act of leaving my soul here, in a place I love, Opoutere. My mishap with the liquid manure lagoon, and all I saw the lost years of laboring in the city now behind, find me and the Chupa Street guitar, alone, deep in thought in the shade of a dune out on my sandbar. The sea breeze wafts fine sand across my strings, an odd strumming. No longer a naive youth, yet still full of questions, the man I am becoming. Subtle messages give me strength to carry on, watching people out kite-fishing, a sail on the horizon, and as I stood despondent on the bridge today, below on a log, side by each sat a heron, an oyster catcher, and a wee kingfisher. The three birds sat together, waiting for the tide to recede, sat in harmony and patience, knowing that the tide would provide all they would need.
The book I read tells of a legend, a ghostly warrior seen at eve on the road down to Opoutere, I have not seen the chap, but the pathway to the beach front frightens me. No cheerful Psthurism from alien, brooding pines in a block. I walk the path quickly neath the unwelcome muttering, and try not to stay out after dark. There is good friend here, Ken, he broke clean away from the world of a rock-star. His Rolls Royce car and all the trappings of the life he led are under thick dust in a shed without a lock. He walks the beach by day in silence, minds the Dottrells with me. He is a man of wisdom, has found his peace, Ken will never leave Opoutere.
Sun and water is good for me, I shall not quit living, what I felt lost is returning gradually, that boundless joy that carried me through reckless youth, on the worn and damp old couch on the verandah of Opoutere. Looks like tonight will be wild, wet and stormy, so my friend, do not worry about Godfrey.
“I never saw the mythic warrior, never startled at his footsteps in the gravel of the road, or the pathway through the nasty pines who did their best to cause me fear.” A happier, stronger vagabond walked out to the highway, round that winding estuary after staying on a year. Wrote Godfrey, “I believe in the legend, believe at my saddest time, it is where I so needed to be, and as I wandered, bereft his paths, looking out for that warrior, on the cliffs above Opoutere he was watching over me… A thick, completed journal was also in the pack, a funny post card with nothing written on the back. Was a picture of a young couple, gazing doe-eyed at each other, they were wearing, matching, vivid colored knitted ponchos, the type knitted by the score by Godfrey’s mother. Captioned- ” They were frequently the subject of unkind remarks” I knew then he was himself again, sense of humor restored, with his love of all things naff and tawdry, made a fresh cup of tea, settled once more to read, no longer had a worry over Godfrey..