YELLOW HOUSES- Adelaide’s Third Story- from Worzel

Adelaide The Chambermaid’s story left off, on a cool autumn evening in Wales, as she and partner Benny, and their battered plaid steamer trunk, showed up in Beatrice’s farm yard. It was a sweaty, talkative delivery man who triggered the memory. He griped into our shop with a heavy load of light weight luggage, late on a Friday afternoon. Dripping that his wife wanted. “dinner out at a rustic country inn…don’t know why? she just loves yellow houses”…

“It tickles when you poke me in the side- Godfrey replied, quite gravely, my sister Alice used to do that, to make me wet myself when small, on a long car ride. “We were on the #50 bus, I was dreaming out the window, told him how I really liked the old farm houses painted yellow”. After much thought, Godfrey shared a story, from a journey on his pink bike long ago, “Was a wee place, Motupiko, three houses, all of them yellow, up a narrow valley, kindly people, living simply. There was an odd campground, and a bee apiary, a long way from the nearest town or city. “It is the “Sophrosyne”, when I see yellow houses, of dear Motupiko they remind me.

“There is one house, said I, a yellow house perched high on Galiano Island, a land mark for me when riding on the B.C. Ferry. No road in, just a track through snow or grass, where the ferry boats slow and turn into Active Pass. It is not a lonely house, keeping vigil oer the sea- and I shall buy that yellow house when I win the lottery.

Sonsie Farm, in Wales…It was Adelaide spoke up first, of course. On the roadway they stood, where it met the downhill path ,and  her second story ended, off wafted my dream of quiet evening, and long, hot bath. She resembled a wee dumpling, stuffed in a cooking bag, smaller than I recalled, yet apricot tough. Benny, ever smiling, storm tossed as the coastline they had walked, sleeping deep in lemon-thyme and heather, Adelaide’s childhood home they sought, now a Tesco’s parking lot,they had been living rough.

We like yellow houses, why is your house Puce?. Beatrice, my friend, good humored, though shy, looked from the grubby faces, and old trunk in it’s wagon. “My house has been painted puce all my life, who may you two vagabonds be and why”? “I am Adelaide, the chambermaid, long ago I turned down bed-sheets for The Queen”. Worzel had our trunk, said  when we got to Wales, drop by for a visit, now we have, what a long walk it has been”. The precious plaid trunk, was stowed neath the canoe in Beatrice’s lounge room, as the old pair fussed. It had a few more dents, a sticker, “Save The Whales and Wolves”, it had more rust. To a horrified Beatrice, I attempted to explain, Yes, I had their trunk, told them I visited , twice a year, never expected them to actually get here…or to recall your name.

“Across your Dominion, Adelaide cut in, I worked as a motel maid, Benny sang his songs of my tending The Queen, and all the places our plaid trunk had been, we crossed The Atlantic on a Polish ship- “Stefan Angeloff”, to Tilbury, London where we carried our trunk off, nicked tea and a bun each from the Brit-Rail Buffet, pinched the wagon to, and headed down the motorway”. “Although your home is painted puce, thank you for inviting us to stay”.

“We seek a yellow house of our own, sang Benny”…perhaps where a once a castle stood, now ruin, stones buried in the grass, garden overgrown” “Set our trunk before a warm fire, create a bed from old books, a yellow house for a home”. “Much as we enjoy, being here, Beatrice with you- a puce house simply will not do”.

Beatrice wrote- (For I could not stay in Wales forever, had to leave Adelaide and Benny with her). “Four times I have stubbed my toe on that @@#xx trunk, four times I have had to search for Adelaide and Benny in the fog out on the moor, five times today, I have desired to kick them out  the door, that Ive’ removed now that summers come round”. “they are oblivious to the fact I prefer to live with goats, but they cheerfully repair bits of the house that threaten to crumble, or fall down” “They perform at the market- people seem to love them, and their trunk full of stories, on the streets of Batley town”.

“We like yellow houses”, they remind me frequently- when annoyed, as always, I return to our book, seeking wisdom from Godfrey.  “Sophrosyne”…he would say, Beatrice dear, “Sophrosyne”…..

THE HAGGIS IS GONE- And Beatrice’s Song- From Worzel

They teased him about his dread of beets, they teased him about his lack of teeth, they teased him about his ragged clothes, they teased him about the dented car his grouchy mother drove…Beatrice spoken softly of the childhood she and Godfrey shared as we explored the Welsh countryside in her equally decrepit vehicle. I was a prairie girl, knew the cold, but never the cold of the piercing, damp wind off the mountains, that cleared the fog and coal smoke, the blowing snow just long enough to reveal the magic of a castle, then veil it again, this modest and mystic treasure of a land. It was not until my third visit to Sonsie Farm, and the old puce house, that Beatrice shared more of herself. Propped against the canoe in her sitting room, and two dead plants was Godfrey’s old “Chupa Street Guitar”, dusted, with shiny new strings. Beatrice explained, “Sugar Mulgrew has taught me three chords, “I have always sung while shoveling manure, and have written a bit down, would you care to hear it? “indeed , yes, I told her, indeed.

  THE HAGGIS IS GONE- The haggis is gone, for there is no more, only beets and sardines, in the country store. And the store is far, far miles away, no haggis left, now many a day. The haggis is gone. Oh the track it climbs, round roots and stone, over ridges it winds, my boots are worn, the nights are cold, and though I dislike towns, it’s where haggis is sold.    Now down to the meadow, in the shady lea, where the cows have been, comes sweet memory..on the summer green, rest your bonnie head, as I spread cold haggis, over fresh rye-bread.       But the haggis is gone!, still I recall your face, the poems, the stories, and your old suitcase, and our childhood shared, love was all we knew, we could not be broken, me and you. But the haggis is gone, and the trail ends to, and I’m at a crossroads, it is winter dawn, with this dented guitar, for the haggis is gone, for the haggis is gone….

( The cows like this one, Beatrice smiled)  BEATRICE’S SONG- When was it you last saw Godfrey, was he up the high country when summertime came?  Asleep in the sun or did you pass on a switch-back?, or a cold morning campsite heading out bound again…Was it in autumn you last walked beside him?, down to the orchard the crisp, fallen leaves. Sit on his strong shoulders to reach those last apples, frost melts on the branches, runs cold up your sleeves.             Was it deep winter you last laughed together? Late nights over coffee by wood fires glow, let the snowdrifts fill in our tracks to the highway, talk of places he’d been and new places to go. Mt Thimbleweed, Smell Fox, Yampa Valley, Dragon’s Bay, all the way to the wild Otago.  What of the mornings I still hear his singing? And as hot afternoons fade dusty to eve, trout rise lazy in the cool of the stream bed, their ripples his laughter, I have to believe.    When was it you last saw Godfrey? was he up the high country when summertime came?  Turnberry Canyon, Holyoak Clearing, the rough scramble down to the wild Tasman Sea.    (I to, enjoyed it Beatrice, I to).    From Worzel.

COUNTING COWS AND CASTLES-on the road to Aberystwyth- from Godfrey

I asked of Godfrey once, as arm in arm we set out on a walk, I am curious , did you and your Ma ever just sit and talk? He thought the thought over, then under, then nodded and then let the thought come slowly back round. He replied, “only once when I was 8, had to see the Optometrist in Aberystwyth Town.

I squinted at the chalkboard in my classroom, Mrs Kromplak worried I could not see what she wrote, what I could not see was past the large Mulgrew in front of me, risked a beeting if he knew, so I ran home and gave Ma teacher’s note.    The city was far, it was the year Ma learned to drive “Garply” our old car. There was only one seat, where driving Ma sat, and a wooden apple crate, I perched on that. Ma was not cheerful, but at least left her angry purse behind as we warmed up the car and set out at dawn. I wore my good kilt and had my comforting horse- sweater on.

From her friendly purse Ma dug out a lint covered clove Life-Saver for me, and for herself a toffee. She muttered her usual, loving shut-up Godfrey. I counted cows and castles all the way to Aberystwyth, and the Optometrist. Twas like a castle where the eye Doctor was, but not scary like the dentist or the quack. I was thoughroly inspected, given eye drops, “they told Ma, in 6 months bring him back” I was ready for a swat, but to my shock I got taken gently by the hand for a stroll down the High Street, to the big Woolworth’s Store.

It smelled of toast, and rubber boots shiny and new, she lifted me high on a stool, and handed me a sticky menu. Ma said, “I used to work here before I met your dad, you have his slate blue eyes, healthy and clear, I am glad”. It was the longest conversation we ever had… I ate chicken salad “Butties” that came through a hole in the wall where the counter lady leaned in to shout.  The more she yelled in the hole, lovely looking food came flying out. No beets came out the wall, so I decided to work back there, must be the most fun job of all. Coffee and tea urns gargled out steam, and I had a cold drink from a fountain machine- “Honeydew , it was odd not sharing with Alice and two straws, so I savored the frosty glass and happily finished off Ma’s. Ma gave me a coin, said don’t get lost, find a treat for Beatrice and Alice, mind now the cost. I found perfume for Beatrice, “My Sin”, for Alice a frame she could put a pop stars photo in. What was left got us all a Jawbreaker Ball, (Alice put a picture of beets in the frame and bolted it to my bedroom wall)    Ma’s purse was grumpy on our way out of the city, but another Life-Saver was dug out for me, count cows and castles till it’s gone and be quiet while I drive please, Godfrey.

He did not posses a photo of his dad, to compare those slate blue eyes that they had. In Beatrice’s puce house can be found to this day, an ancient bottle of “My Sin” she has never had the heart to throw away. “I counted cows and castles, I was 8 years old, kneeling on an apple crate on those winding Welsh roads” Looking out ahead, counting all the cows and castles I saw, on the road from Aberystwyth just me and my Ma.