TWO FOR THE ROAD- TO APPLEBY FAIR- From Worzel

   When I was eight, I recalled to Beatrice, my younger brother Cudberth and I ran away from home, a spat with our stepmother, that resulted in “Mrs Gibberflat ” scorching the green beans. We were reported hitchhiking west of town, our few belongings in a lunchbox. Along came the entire family, to our dismay…but she was not angry, Mrs Gibberflat took us all for ice-cream…. Did you and Godfrey ever attempt running away? 

Well, thought back Beatrice, the summer we two were eight, was full on ponies, and fun times exploring. Yes, we did run away, it was my bright idea to run off and be gypsies, my gentle mum’s greatest fear. “Lets run off, I suggested to Godfrey, “run off together to Appleby Fair.” “Our ponies will carry us safe over the hills, where gypsies gather each summer in Appleby, oh Beatrice, cried Godfrey, “I cannot wait, though Ma may notice I’m gone, and we are only just eight.”

“I packed a billy-pot, blankets, and bread to toast over the fire at tea. “Godfrey brought Haggis, stuffed in a sack, an onion, and left a note for his Ma” “Godfrey has gone with the gypsies, and will not be back.” “He left it where Ma sat to knit, so she’d find it”.

“Godfrey’s grey pony was eager to ride, my wily old mare refused to be caught”. “We bribed her with carrots, and chased her down the high hedge row, with the help of Old Man Pettigrew, we chased her up  the low meadow, and when finally we caught the bay mare, thanked the deaf farmer for his directions, “Go far up the great north road” “Old Man Pettigrew knew, knew the way to Appleby Fair”.

” It rained, the rain ceased, the sun warmed shaggy coats and wet manes.” Our clothes also damp, by eve found a soft spot to camp, “we were not afraid, round the fire we made, toast and Haggis were fried” “We will build a gypsy “Bender”, dance nightly round our fire to high, soaring ember, and never have to do our own wash”  “This in his sleep, dream muttered Godfrey”.

“I woke to warm pony breath in my hair, slightly less bold, as I weed in a field, in dawn cold”… “my bay mare was nowhere in sight, she had lit out for home in the night”. “We walked and rode, rode then walked, as Godfrey’s pony was not balky or mean”. “At hungry mid day, we found ourselves, on the High street of Skibbereen.”

“At Bagg, Greede, and Grab Grocers, the chap with a very large wen on his chin was quite surly” “I had twenty three pence in my grubby hand, he had no patience for children, and an accent we could not understand”. “He sold me a tin of Spam, and one dry bread roll, though I asked him for two”. “I cheeked him as we were shoved out the door, I believe he said, “I get the dog after you”.

On the steps of “The Swing In Inn” we sat, pony tied in the shade to a tree, we’d snitched apples and candy from a market stall, where the fruit seller chased after Godfrey”. “But mostly the town folk smiled and waved, we ate apples and Spam as they came and went from the bar”. “We laughed at the thought, of never doing our own wash, when down High street came the roar of “Garply”…”Godfrey’s mother’s Morris Minor, decrepit old car”.

Do you remember perhaps one day of childhood, an adventure golden, above any other? . “Sweet scent of first cut hay reminds me, of early summer on the road to Appleby Fair, and the fact that we never got there”. “Garply passed us raising dust, my mum sat on the crate seat beside”. “By instinct I climbed the nearest tree, Godfrey fled for to hide”. “Mum stood laughing beneath my tree, threatening to fetch a saw if I did not come down”. “Godfrey was dragged out from under the pub, we were the talk that day, of Skibbereen Town”.

“And thanks to Old Man Pettigrew, and return of the home loving mare, our parents knew where we could be found, on the road to Appleby Fair. “Also “The Mossman”, Father Flagonmore, reportedly saw us on the Batley River Shore, “removing stones, rather than throwing them in”-“Odd behavior indeed, he noted for two such urchin children”.

“My Ma said not a word to me, nary a slap I received”, years later, recalled Godfrey. “All Ma did was serve beets, in” Slibber Sauce” for the rest of summer, beets breakfast, lunch and tea”.

My mum walked the weary pony back, as we two were stuffed in that awful old car”. “Now, as I look back it only seemed a long way, everything when you are eight is so big and far”.

“Said Godfrey, many times since I have slept in snug “Bender”, danced round the fire to high, soaring ember, noted sidewalks are the same, be you hobo or posh, but I never did make it to Appleby Fair….and have always, always had to do my own wash”…

DUFFER’S DELIGHT- From Worzel

West coast summer- evening up at the lake, carry the canoe down to paddle at twilight..Garnet in the bow, Godfrey to steer, in duffer’s delight I will happily sit here.

Barely a ripple will our noble craft glide, I trail one hand gently over the side, my fellows understand reverence tonight, for silence on the water- for duffer’s delight.

There lives in me special memory of campfire at morning. the smoke lingers longer, the damp wood takes slow, hobo toast dripping honey, coffee just right, warm my face with the sunrise- duffer’s delight.

Before bold heat of day, my fellows set out, determined and laughing up the Arrowsmith trail, I have seen the view west from the summits height- today I stay cool by the lakeside- duffer’s delight.

A swim and a snooze, read my book, if inspired perhaps even stretch out and write.. do as I please ,for I’m out of the city, snooze in the shade deep in duffer’s delight.

WHALE DIVING ROCK- From Worzel

This poem was found in a letter to Godfrey, forwarded several times, received months after his passing, we believe from the elusive Sarah..a fond mystery..

She called, welcome old friend!, keep your rambling gear on, and your warm hat of wool so fine, if lacking thermal, Swedish long drawers, you may borrow a pair of mine.   We shall then journey west to whale diving rock, you and me, down from these mountains to the coast of B.C.

Oh the dented yellow van is older than we are. It is dampish, brackety, and lacking a fuel gauge. A curmudgeonly smelling, home on wheels slowing her age.

“Tell me a story, share a new song, it has been too long, since we could quietly talk, as I drive the deep forest back roads to whale diving rock.

Tattered journals, shoe boxes of letter-grams, stained books of poems scattered random are our legacy. I the conssumate loner…you the odd lad who could make friends in an empty room, so easily. I have built a fine life in our years apart, but never conformed, never surrendered the vagabond heart.

In our brown muddy boots let us walk, through the deep Taradiddle of Bracken fern, to the cliff face that over looks whale diving rock.    December, be storm season, king tides, the surge and the flow. It is all how you wish to perceive it, as we gaze upon whale diving rock far below, which to me resembles the great, rounded back of a whale turned to stone- alone in eternal dive deep.

And you see the whale cavorting in the swell, splashing down with exuberant leap.

May we add this day to the list of pleasure, where time has chosen to wait forever, carry it always in heart and mind, until the next journey we share together.

Notebook pages are damp, I dry them and warm my hands by the fire at our humble camp. My poem is wrinkled from a drip down my neck, dew from mist moistened tarp via fir tree and sheltering Hemlock..but I will sleep deeply, early tonight, lulled by the blow and rumble of whale diving rock…

COOKING SNISLENS OVER THE FIRE- As told by George Pyrdewy to Worzel

Farewell Leona,may you waft on strong, silver wings..sang the scruffy young man I passed by in the city park.The music was pleasant, I caught the sad words of his song. Early morning, I was late, work beckoned, I hurried along. And when another evening, rushing again, passed by the same chap, (he was changing a string), Not intending to stop, though he called out to me, “come share the Snislens I am cooking on the fire, hello, I am Godfrey

I folded my coat, put my briefcase secure neath the picnic table seats. He worked over a skillet, turning small balls of dough, explaining that he “left home recently to avoid beets” But for beets I will talk to anyone I meet. I have not been gone from my homeland long,I hope in life to aquire wisdom suitable for passing on.

Snislens are yummy served hot and fried, I learned to make them from a friend’s Ma who left me the recipe when she died. Godfrey gave me his Frisbee to use as a plate, indeed the Snislens were sizzling hot, some he cheese filled, others not, some with garlic, one with a cherry for a surprise, and the best smoked salmon I have ever had folded inside.

You must be important by the look of your shoes asked the cheeky, young man frying Snislen dough balls now in twos. For a week I have camped by the duck pond down below, and twice a day see you in a hurry everywhere you go. “I work picking fruit from cane and tree, because it is ripe we work with pleasant urgency.”What is it that you do that requires always being in a hurry?”

I savored a Salmon Snislen and pondered this question from Godfrey..”I sell things to persons with a guarantee it will break in two years and they will have to buy, a new improved model from me” “I have calls to make and orders to fill, if I don’t make sales a more aggressive chap will.” I fear living in a small, shabby room in the dark, or sitting with nothing to do in the park”.

Godfrey was quiet, handed the last hot Snislens to me. Finally he said softly, “Well George, does selling a person something they don’t really need make you happy?’..I helped him wash the dishes neath the tap some distance away. Godfrey tuned his guitar to the sunset. I bid him goodnight, promised to drop by his camp another day.

“Farewell, Leona you came out from the shadow, without fear you built a good life for yourself, sang Godfrey. My word, I pondered, what an odd wake up call, I did not go back to my sales job at all.

I left my shoes on the sidewalk for someone with none, told the boss,”I retire,” you may find me near the duck pond, cooking Snislens over the fire.I do slow work that makes me happy, with spare time to learn piano, and banjo to, with five strings. I sing for Leona, for she gave us Snislens, she is gone from us, flown on silver wings.

A rare, unusual story from Godfrey’s early years on the road, we thank George for sharing.

THE ROAN ROGUE TELLS HER STORY- Bye Godfrey

He was not always teller of the stories, the leaver of poems, weaver of the random tales, he gloried in the legends, bush ballads, the sad songs, the books he had read as a lad home in  Wales.

Godfrey had a deep love for remote places, for the range land, the coulees of the high prairie, and on this warm night while the stars fell about us, this story he passed on to me…He said, “I hiked out alone once, hiked far up a wide valley, an Eden for horses knee deep in the  high meadows there.

For a week I camped rough, watched a small wild herd, led by a true rogue, a fine blue roan mare. It is oft a short, hard life this being free, and the roan rogue told me her story.

“In my winter coat said she, cinnamon, steel and white, my frost rimed whiskers, your wise eyes knowing. In darkest night stand head to tail, I shield you, you shelter me. “I was ranch born to be broken bit and spur.The people were not cruel to us, we simply did as we were told” As my kind mother taught me from the day I was foaled. “They provide your shelter, feed and hay- do not disobey”.

I was near one year old when they took her away. My new person came with scratch and brush and soft words, with hands that always smelled of sugar. In time I came to love and trust her. But at age of two, I was turned out to mature, I ran with my friends and would not be brought back at Autumn Muster.

My summer coat sleek silver, hooves and legs strong, from good feed and running on that short, grass prairie. I met up with a band of mustang rogues, happy that the herd did accept me. I bore my colts as the stars fell above us at night.. I see them still. Through stream and gully my young race in flight forever.

The deep snows are coming, head to tail let us shelter together, my winter coat shaggy, cinnamon, steel and white, from the cold wind always we comfort each other, and listen to the story of this blue roan rogue, wild horse, your Grandmother.

It is oft a short, hard life spent free. Plucking gentle notes on his guitar sang the vagabond, Godfrey.

The stories rolled out, the fire burned down to coals, he said, “I called her Rata, for the lovely mountain tree, wild where the high tussock grows. I like to say a higher wisdom passed between us that cold morning, I shouldered my pack, it was heavy, as oddly was my heart. In the icy stream Rata dropped her head to drink. As I hiked off not intending to look back..but of course I did to see, the mare I had been observing this whole time had been observing me.

Crystal clean water dripped from her gray muzzle, lit by the first rays of dawn, it was then the higher wisdom passed between us, when I looked back one last time Rata was gone.