I liked the chap, Reilly, Godfrey tells of in this story. Godfrey would talk to anyone, talk of anything but beets, and meandering about Canada, he was never short of persons to talk to.
“ Here’s a simple wee ballad you can play on a marsh reed, or only three chords, even just read it aloud written down, not high in drama, no pathos or mirth, Reilly did not get his heart broke or drown”. “It’s about how a boy loved the Vermillion River, flowed through his prairie hometown”.
“From the time he could see over the grass he’d explore, while dad worked cutting wood, and ma sit, reading or draw”. “The dragon flies, the “Jesus” beetles in summer, all the times he fell in with a splat and a shout, always someone to scold and fish him back out.”
“Duck hunting in autumn on the freezing slough, skates stuffed with sock till they fit, on the ice in winter was the childhood that Reilly knew”. “All Reilly loved dwelt along the Vermillion, and the prairie town it ran through’.
“There was pond hockey, harvest time suppers, there were plates of chips and gravy, Saturdays, down at the cafe’. “There was the track his old man bulldozed, to the deep swimming hole, on the river bend, he cleared a pathway. There was a high rope swing over the water, horses and dirt bikes to ride, he’d gallop when the fields were bare, after school, along the winding riverside”.
“Yes, I met Reilly at the turn of his young years, saw him every day, passing over the new bridge way”. There he would be hip deep fishing, or just dreaming youth’s dreams. I swung down through the tall grass, to talk to him one day”. “He carved as we’d chat, as strangers do, on the banks of the Vermillion we sat’.
“I commented, how serene this river, it must be very special to you?. “Was a whistle Reilly carved from a reed, I could not make it work when I blew”, Reilly could, and like an odd, beckoning call, it’s song, made me long to see what lay around the next bend, touched deep in the heart of this vagabond”.
“My life has been charmed, said Reilly”. “Oh the stories he told me as we sat carving whistles, not I or the river have been dammed, hurt, or harmed”. All Reilly loved his whole life, all he knew, dwelt on the Vermillion, and the prairie town it ran through’.
“He said, I thought the thought over, and under again, as friends could not wait to leave for the city”. “I am six generations living on the Vermillion, it is where I am contented to be”.