it was always a delight to spend time with Hawken, a young vagabond who, as Godfrey had before him, become part of our lives. He tackled life’s challenges with characteristic intelligence and dignity, and during a year spent with us- endured an office job- indoors…truly a challenge indeed..
Clat!, went the toilet seat, I always checked before I sat, no matter how desperate. The light bulb in our loo had burned out the week before, I could just reach up to change it if I stood on the rim, one foot braced in the door. Yet today, the light worked in the loo!, something I knew my husband, could not be dragged from his book to do. Two fair heads were bent, deep in study at the kitchen table, over maps and photos and had saved me a piece of the cake I had bought. “I could not be irked, as I was quite fond of Hawken, full circle round the world, had come our vagabond….
“He dodged a tender slap from me, said he’d dropped by for cake and tea, and spend time before heading home to face his family’. Life outside is my pathway, my career, mother wishes otherwise, but of the stern lecture, I’ve no fear. “The world battered my heart, but all I saw could not break me, I am Yukon bound, in no hurry to head back home to the prairie, should like to stay awhile, if you will have me”?.
Clat!, went the toilet seat, in our home it was oft the tune that heralded the dawn…it has been one year, today our Hawken set out for the Yukon. Unlike Godfrey, he did not cheek the landlady, took things to heart though, did Hawken, much more seriously. He got a job as a bank clerk, trotted off each day in borrowed shirt and tie, endured the bus ride, spent each weekend, and every spare moment of that year outside. “Sadly, he reported, people stuck in small rooms can be frequently unkind, now I understand why”. “At my work is a shy young clerk, Polly Semous- the others call her “Cyclops”, call her cubicle “The beast cave”. “I doubt any of them have even read the story, what a way for tellers of middle age in a bank to behave”.
In our aged building, many signs hang in the hall, one above the missing step on the stair read- “DON’T STEP IN HOLE NOT THERE- SOON i GET MAKE REPAIR”. Miss Polly Semous waits for the bus she commutes on, when it rains thinks of the kindly lad with stars in his eyes, who dreamed of The Yukon. “And at home, my Garnet Odd, notes, looking up from his book, for a second, “Miss Polly Semous would be off in a heart beat to The Yukon, if he asked” , Garnet reckoned.
Grimy Underthings!, “I could hear our cranky landlady, for we had one washer that rarely worked, if at all, someone had dropped a pair of Y-fronts in the hall, I had stepped over worse things”. Hawken sat writing, deep in my turquoise chair, he would soon spread his wings”. I pictured him neath mountains by the wide highway, sun burnt face, in those worn thin boots he would not let me replace. Shyly, he admitted talking to Polly, of remote northern banks, and way off topic, an Albatross he saw once- “She is quietly adventurous”….”And for you, I have replaced the missing stair, have created a device to change the light high in the loo, bolted to the end of a stick. “No more balancing on toilet or chair. After that, I glued a rubber pad on the seat, so it will no longer Clat!. “Will you keep my guitar for me? I have hung it on the wall, with the old guitar of Godfrey, it is my word, I will come back” he assured me, stuffing journal in his backpack.
“It was still early spring, I drove Hawken to the Ferries, he had to catch the old, slow one from Nanaimo. I had been through this before, letting my vagabond go. “Hawken has gone to The Yukon, he writes, “My canoe glides like a coastal wolf, on the misty, muddy river”. No place for the reckless, rightly so, agreed a chap I met on a remote shore, he sat outside his cabin home, plucking on a banjo”. “Rightly so!. Polly Semous will be working in a bank in Dawson City, in a month. . “I will hitch down and join her, before freeze up and dark of winter”. “Just maybe, have been smote with hearts desire, your laughter has crossed the mountains, echoed down the trail, that I am portaging on, I hear hearty guffaw, across sky and water…laugh at my romantic bumblings friends..for Hawken has indeed gone to the Yukon.