HE WROTE A SEA SHANTY- For Sandy

She was a Coleopterist..indeed, I pondered, how Godfrey would enjoy this mornings obituaries, which in his passing I adopted his hobby of reading. “Where ere I wander, said long ago Godfrey, I can find a paper with an obituary.”The life stories, the pathos, the love, and adventure, to the obits to learn I turn”

Yet oddly, he sat quiet, over the paper this summer morning, had not touched his “Sandwish”of four types of toast, rye on top, layered with marmalade, was idly stirring his tea, which Godfrey never did, considering it bad luck. “I knew this chap in the obits, he nodded to me, briefly, long ago, he was a scholar and a hippie..

Since Godfrey could remember, he listened for the singing from dockside pubs, and songs of fishers calling cross the harbor. A boyhood dreaming of long journeys by sea, thus gleaning the wisdom he could weave one day, into a shanty.

So he waited, waited patiently, for the words to come to him with the tide. Godfrey did make that long, sea journey, and met the young Sandy while hitching a ride. “Was a Volkswagen Van stopped, space was made for me, all long haired chaps named Pete, Pat, Jack and Sandy, there was more than one Sandy and each one was a hippie”.

On a gulf island road, passing hay fields  hot and dusty, in the Volkswagen Van was crammed the vagabond Godfrey, there were apple trees laden, for it was late summer, cedar split rail fences silver with age. “We stopped for chips, so good and greasy, in the islands only small village”.

Every passing person who waved was a hippie, perhaps on this island I would find my sea shanty. Godfrey notes…”On my right hind leg, just above the tattoo, is a ragged scar I once showed you. Nicked it deep on the door of the van, piling out end of the ride, only the tattoo artist asked the scars story, I told her the old tale of a great group of hippies, three of which were named Sandy”

Twas the week an old chap name of “Nixon” resigned,  allover the news were words “Liar” and “Crook”, free from such rubbish we camped on a wide bay, potatoes and porridge to cook. “I recall the damp morning, the chipped cup of instant coffee, bitter and smoky from a can, sitting on a log, talking with this kindly lad- Sandy, who drove the old Volkswagen Van.

“From a foothills town I learned came he, drifted out west, a scholar and a hippie. He encouraged me that I could write that sea shanty.

Feel the warm, oily deck neath bare feet, convey in words the fear of swells higher that our mast”. Dodge the squalls, wonder how long the run of fair seas will last”. Sing of picking weevils from the flour, eating old, cold cod tongues and rancid “Burgoo”. Smell the Tea-Tree as we fetch exotic lands, no home to long for return to…

Much as I glean from your obituary, yours was a good life, and peace be the rest of the journey old friend Sandy.

Up a narrow island road, shadows pass in summer sun, on the  split glass dash of a Volkswagen Van, dented and old, it will not get past sixty, but none of that matters, it chugs along, driven by a hippie they are not all past and gone.

In the obit photo is no trace of the youth you used to be, clean shaven, dressed rather tidy…posed neath an oak tree, “I knew him briefly, we talked of scars, and August shooting stars and Nixon…was the summer I set out to write a shanty.”.

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8 thoughts on “HE WROTE A SEA SHANTY- For Sandy

  1. I feel wistful as I read and re-read about Godfrey following the obituaries and finding his friend’s obituary, as I too often have. . (I always read your posts twice so I don’t miss the rhythmic flow and rhyme.)
    I also have the hard-to-explain hobby of reading obituaries. The best try to capture in words the journeys of a lifetime….each is unique.
    Sheila, you amaze me each time by how you can bring a location and moment to life with your words. “Apple trees laden ….. cedar rail fences silver with age.” Each paragraph has such wonderful lines.

    • Many thanks Mercy- always a delight to hear from you, There is a timeless quality to the small islands up here, Sandy’s obit catapulted me back to one- and long lost summer.

    • Thanks Dianne- it was a waterfall of images- so odd how long stored memories and people are always here, just in that summer low cloud morning until summoned. Cheers to happy new year my friend..

  2. Ah, the resignation of Richard Nixon close on the heels of that of his vice-president, Spiro Agnew, yet what I remember of that time is endless summers, vans covered with flowers, a hippie named Craig who lived in an abandoned car in the vast outdoors of Nevada and played his harmonica for the herds of wild horses who wandered near, and driving in the car singing along to “If you’re going to San Francisco/Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” I was inundated with memories as I read this poignant post, Sheila. Thank you.

    • Thanks so much Janet- I rise daily in the hope that anger will pass, and the Sandys, Godfreys, and Craigs will one day return- in those great old vans.Happy New year you and yers.

  3. Spot i’ll carry on with this write-up, I really believe this amazing site needs a great deal more consideration. I’ll more likely once again to learn to read much more, many thanks for that info.

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