Worzel here, Finally a sunny Sunday, breezy out, my Arthurits at bay, I am taking the day off to dust/shovel the flat. Even shifted a dead plant off to one side, found enough money down my turquoise chair to send out for chow-mein, and am now curled up in the thieving old chair, watching the cops watching a chap in the tent camp below. He has dragged a bunk bed down to the park, and is napping on the top half.
Days like this one, I miss Godfrey the most…he understood the wisdom in a song for every chore, and would have made his way down to the grass, to offer the cop apples and something to read. I have been saving one of his early journals for summer- here is a story from it.
Song lends itself to a vagabond’s rainy Sunday, many a fine ode has been penned by the wandering lonely. And I had tramped down from the wild Paparoa Range, steep muddy tracks, waterfalls- I return there when I dream of her low cloud mystery, the Paparoas and the small town of “Fairly”.
Twas Sunday morning, I’d stayed in a small hostel, sipping my tea looking over wet pavement. Usual grumbling and zipping of rain gear as travelers up early as they came and they went.
Leaned out the window, cool air to let in, for nothing smells fresher than a damp Westland garden, tinged with scent of coal smoke and the wild Tasman Sea, a ringing sound from somewhere distant intriqued me.
Donning hat and kilt, I sought out the sound of singing and hammering on steel, somewhere in the mist above Fairly. Now a vagabond always has plenty to do, like seeking sounds of a blacksmith, and noting on Sundays the chip shop opened at 2:00.
When the hammer bows paused, I diserned the faint singing, noted horse tracks on the sandy verge, down one old side street, up the end of another, the doors were wide open and lop sided sign hung above read- “Banjo String Forge”.
I was a young vagabond adrift in the Westland, bold were the blows from the smith’s daughters hand, rain it pounded on the shops iron roof, and the tethered gray cart draft held up muddy hoof. Intent on her work she did not see me, as waiting for her iron to heat, tied back golden hair with a grimy bandanna, sang in a voice low and sweet.
“Oh give me the spark and the slag and the tongs! and the worn leather apron left to me. I’d not trade a rusty file from my smithy, for all of the gold down away in your city”.
There was an iron bench outside the shop, where I sat- too shy in those years to intrude. Listened I did to her every verse, roar of the forge and her hammers drop.
“Ma, she sang was a blacksmith’s daughter, Pa a coal miners son, I hope my own will see the world, before I pass my hammer on- hope to pass my hammer on”.
The Paparoas too cloud shrouded to see, I knew looked down upon me. It showed no sign of clearing, so long I sat, happy, writing in time to the sounds I was hearing. Posh car passing, full of old ladies stare at me en route to church. Outside the pub on the corner, a drunk pair of laughing young mates lurch. From The Old Man’s Home down the hill some chap has a nasty wet cough, deep patient sigh from the horse being shod, hiss of the quenching trough.
And I too shy in my younger day, to ask her name and tell her there was, beauty in her singing, down Fairly way on a wet summer Sunday. Too shy to ask her, “will you meet me at the chip shop, when it opens at 2:00?. “For I seek higher wisdom and sense joy in the work that you do.”
I stayed a week in the little town, never saw the young woman again…I headed back out to pan for gold..in the streams of the Paparoas…was on a Sunday morning, in the cool of the Westland rain…