NEXT TO A HIGHWAY- from Worzel and Hawken

There were 99 things that did not bother Godfrey, only beets all his life was dislike he took seriously, also moths, heights, caves, bullies, war, greed, things thrown at him from moving cars, and all level of bigotry.   He was quite the observer and oft wrote to me, of the things he would see, standing next to a highway.

Godfrey wrote, “Though I prefer leafy trails and tidal crossings wide, as a vagabond  at times I must hitch for a ride, on a busy modern roadside.”   “I have seen hoof prints in dust, and words carved on a tree, “Across this vast domain Tencendur carries me- 1973″     Have observed in a deep ditch, watercress plants, and a packet of someones brand new, carelessly tossed underpants.   There have been ripe Thimble berries, and overgrown pathways I have thrashed through the thorns to explore, and found empty houses full of stories, warped porches in late stages of decay….Who lived here? before this back road and orchard was widened into highway.

Next to a highway, he found a record album , a 33rpm, worn and old, faded cover photo of a couple by a barn- cow girl and a scowling gunslinger, time has eroded the autograph, but still he made out the words,” to Fred from Audrey Clunk, Country Girl Singer”.   “I left it, said Godfrey, at the next roadside cafe, if whomever lost the record should pass that way”

Next to a highway, have seen road kill of every species and size, Nova Scotia to Peru and points in between. I have found discarded literature in volumes, most of it vulgar and obscene. Have seen The Rockies panorama, and life’s many passing dramas, and I’d not trade the roughest day.. next to the highway.

“I remain the thinker, and sitter on stones”, writes our friend, the young Vagabond Hawken, “I carry as a light touch on the shoulder, the wisdom Godfrey left to me, the day we spent in deep contemplation of life, in that prairie truck stop booth, next to the highway. “I recall the mingled smells of sweat and coffee, tang of chicken soup, the drool of onions frying, crack of egg, snizz of burger being turned”.  this I learned from Godfrey- “You miss out on too much, wasting time being angry” Go to your bed at night a wee bit cold and hungry, “Gundy- Guts up to life’s Buffet, offer it up to joy, and though not easily done, let the rest go, in peace end each day”    “Ancient this grotto, an alpine canyon wall, I am quenching my thirst face first with the sweetest water I have ever known. Sun through Beech forest dapple lights the summit of the pass, I stand one foot in Westland, one in Otago, Soon will be time to leave the track and go, seeking that place of understanding, is where you will find me, may pass by me, standing next to a highway..


8 thoughts on “NEXT TO A HIGHWAY- from Worzel and Hawken

  1. I enjoy how “next to a highway” weaves through-out Godfrey’s story. I seriously share Godfrey’s dislikes, except beets (shredded on a salad only).

  2. Thanks Mary- a place most of us rarely consider, or would enjoy lingering beside, a highway. He once, inspired by my cycle adventures bought a bike and set out, the frame broke in a remote pass, he hefted it over his shoulder and walked until a truck came along, gave him a packet of frozen lamb chops and tin of beer- but not a lift, he walked 3 days out to town, there were 99 things that did not bother Godfrey.

  3. Thanks Mary- when I cycled that way, I stayed in Fox Glacier for a week, waiting for it to stop raining, in crystal clear weather, top of the pass the road, (now sadly, paved and no longer a goat track) was washed out by a slide. Workmen barred my way, rather than bike a week backwards I carried my gear over the mire. Godfrey and I inspired one another.This was 1983.

  4. I like coming to your tales late and reading the dialogue of two of my friends in the comments section. It adds an extra layer of enjoyment for me. I think Hawken, a young vagabond, disciple of Godfrey, is a fine addition to your epic tale and useful to you as a writer. My soul resounded to this piece about adventures along a highway as I, too, am fascinated by the detritus collected there and like poking through it when I ramble country roads.

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