COMES THE SUN TO THE HILL- From Worzel and Godfrey

Worzel here, Though at home most anywhere without beets, Godfrey loved the faded, little towns best. “I like to just sit”, he wrote. In ratty kilt, battered suitcase at his side, with the faded pink negligee’ plugging a tear, Godfrey enjoyed tea and pastries , wrote letters or journal, watched and listened as the whirled passed by..”.Daw yr haul i Bryn”, he muttered in Welsh if he felt I was rushing the given day….

I recalled this wisdom, translated for me with a rather wet “Feh” by Alice, his eccentric sister. “Comes The sun to The Hill”…like waiting for the tide, or Slibber Sauce to gel, or your birthday, especially if you fib like me, and enjoy it three times a year. eventually it will cease raining, said Alice- relax and wait.  

Today I climbed a hillock, not a mountain or a tor or crag, but climb I did up to the peak. And there I rested elder-knee, looked out across the vast sprawl of what once was farms, now city.

Comes the sun to the hill, to the little towns Godfrey made home in his travels. Like Ceylon in Saskatchewan where we two met, sun comes to the coulees of Ceylon town, where the kids play outside all year round. Hear the crack of ball bat summer evening sweet, scrape of hockey stick on the frozen street. The young will leave home but the town carry on, wish we all could know a little place like Ceylon.

Cowdown- nestled deep in a vale, we welcomed the warmth of the sun to the hill as we hitched a ride. So cold the carrot in my pocket froze solid, snow blew oer the valley        hiding a castle on the far river side.

I recall little of the lift that finally left us in Cowdown, only the chip shop, in the wee town. Hot slabs of good fish and chips, malt vinegar, no plates to be had, just spread out on newspaper.  Come the sun to the hills of Wiltshire so old, come the sun to Cowdown on days so cold, that the carrot in my pocket froze…a journey legendary, early days on the road for The vagabond Godfrey.

Comes the sun to the hills that cradle the mighty Buller. Steeped in mist, untamed in her splendor, one of Godfrey’s favorite places, is Inangahua, on a bend in the river.

One shop and fuel pump, pub and hotel, roadside forge, imagine riding on a coach, long ago down the Buller Gorge. Sun comes to the hills, stopped and rested a spell at the ruins of a “Pub with No Beer”, all that remains of “Lyell”. Wrote Godfrey, “I felt peace there, no ghosties feared I”, as the sun was gone, and stars bright over the Buller, feared only the swarms of the nasty biting sand fly…

I thought of how I missed Godfreys’ stories- of late summer afternoon, the sun bleached, peeling murals, hum and rumble of the highway, a place discovered in his youth called “Nar Nar Goon”- East of Melbourne can be found, this mural town.

In conditioned reflex the barman wields his rag, laconic story teller of a tiger snake he shot, behind the pan in the lady’s loo. On the pub walls, photos hang of rugby teams and race horses. In Nar Nar Goon, indeed the sun comes to the hill, seek out a shady spot to rest, rest as dos the gray Kangaroo….

Oh little town of” Ethelbert-“fond in my memory, clinging to the northern edge, of the Canadian prairie….gossip in the hotel bar tonight, laughter in the diner and take away counter of the “Chicken Delight”.

Comes the sun to the low hills, welcomes spring, old billboard on the one road in” 1971 Ethelbert Homecoming”. You may be told the story from one who was there, of chaos and coins, rolling everywhere. In the laundry-mat, Janice Krame put boots to the soap and bleach machine.

“Did the cops come all the way out from Grandview”? was there five police, or just the Ethelbert town two”?.  Janice went on with her laundry, – save the soap and bleach dispenser, no one was hurt and The cops did not arrest her, talk turns to crops,  and till the the sun will come to the hill… life will carry on in Ethelbert.

Home now, rested and warm- I sit at my window in turquoise chair, looking out at what Godfrey discovered long ago, my “Wall of Illusion”. When the trees are in full foliage, the wall is a wall of endless amusement. Today for example, a chap in a suit, carrying a bouquet of roses and purple wrapped box of chocolates from the posh store hurried down the wall. The illusion worked, he disappeared and a street person pushing his cart emerged, Godfrey would have loved it…

Advertisements

CAUGHT IN THE RAIN-From Worzel and friends

Worzel here, I guffaw at romantic notions of being “Caught in the rain”. Lost to me in elderly dislike of rubbery outer wear and being blown home, with a griping wet ass and sodden grocery bags. Godfrey knew the rain, lived in harmony with it, being caught out wet made the deep, hot bath and tea more of a treat. 

He oft pondered the subject, rainy days spent blanket wrapped in my turquoise chair, as I am this Sunday, looking out over busy Wharf street. I asked friends, (and his sister Alice) for their stories of being “Caught in the rain”. This is an old one, from the late Larry, free Advice Wino….

Long ago, stormy morning, passed The Salvation Army, heard there playing piano, The Vagabond Godfrey. So wet, windy and cold the shelter opened early. Sodden gear spread to dry, smell of toast and hot coffee. Though I seldom dropped by,  stood and paused in the doorway, he was barely proffessinal on that battered piano, such peace was in the music from Godfrey.

Said he learned by ear from his sister back home in Wales. Hour by hour she practiced the notes and scales,” I know now she knew what I knew, when Alice did not think I could carry a tune in a pot, and if I dared touch her piano, risked being tossed headlong out in the rain if ever caught”

Sister Alice is a well known prankster in her home village, Skibbereen, in Wales.  

Fish and chips, pies, pastries and tea by the pot, tastes best after you have been caught. Caught doing what??, you ask, do you imply that I may avoid pranking, in order to stay warm and dry?.

There is joy in being caught in the rain, the town cop, Brian dislikes my stick, and soggy fur wrap, he holds getting his hat wet in some disdain. I push my step father Arthur in his chair through puddles, and once got the poor old chap mired axle deep in wet grass. Arthur shook his cane, and bellowed and swore that he had not been mired in deep grass since the war, When the firemen came, to lift Arthur out, we had good guffaws and handshakes all about. ..

Caught we were as the rain poured down, caught the jolly pranksters of Skibbereen Town. From “Alice- A life in Praise of Myself”.

Benny and Adelaide- They are a world roaming pair of elderly rogues, they have made themselves at home on Sonsie Farm, with Beatrice- Godfrey’s lifelong friend, with whom I am compiling his story. “Feh, wrote Beatrice- I was born caught in the rain”. Benny and Adelaide were happy to share-..

“On most every journey, save “The Nullarbor Plain”, we with our trunk have been caught in the rain. a useful shelter, our trunk, huddled under it many a bleak, gray dawn, and with purloined paddles, carried us, waving like the Royals I once served, down The River Avon.

“Our trunk was misplaced at a bus station once, we found it on a lost and found shelf, boldly, I Adelaide wrested it, from the arms, of a rascal claimed our trunk for himself.

We will seek yellow houses till we roll up and cark, though the weather be mizzling and dark our path. We shall dig a hole neath our trunk in the peat, build a smoky,  gypsy fire for heat, then bask for hours in luxury bath…when caught in the rain? Our old steamer trunk will shelter and warm us again…

Indeed, Benny and Adelaide’s decrepit plaid trunk is their cherished possession.  

Young vagabond, Hawken wrote- He was “The Son I Forgot To Have”, and a fine storyteller.  

By age 11, he wrote, I had worn out every “Billy and Blaze” book in our town library. Boy and horse adventures, fine artwork, how I longed for such a brave pony. A friend of my parents had a pony, they oft dropped by to complain about the neighbors– “Dirty Hippies”. The pony was a gift to their son from the hippies, in hope it would give him interest in something besides the violin. It did not, when dad and I checked out “Ralph”, the pony, he stood un groomed, definatley no “Blaze”, we could hear violin music from the house. Ralph regarded us with a world weary snort. He was perfect…

Horses are dangerous, you had a cousin once bitten on the head, no bare feet in the barn yard you’ll get worms, no drinking from the trough or hose, gracious the germs, warned my mother. “Don’t let him runoff, griped dad, you won’t be getting another’ Grandparents bickered over who fell off the mower back in 1922 and got dead, horses are dangerous, in chorus my family oft said.

Fond memory of a rainy day, first taste of freedom from school and family. A fine, cool morning early summer, heat held at bay by the rain, it tickled my bare feet, it damped the dust along the back road. We stopped and drank cool from a hose, scent of hot pine needles, deep green beyond the ditch in the shadows.

Ripe grew thimble berries tart, I gorged on wild black berries and apples by the river, Ralph grazed as I sat. I will always remember this day, the downpour we were caught in, sheltered neath the eave of a tumbledown homestead, long abandoned.

I held the wet reins of my chestnut pony, saw the bolt of lightning strike a tree across the valley, felt the mild shock of it pass through me…

Never told anyone this story. Caught in many a rain since, but this day I kept as my own. Trotted home late and hungry, used one of Ma’s good towels to rub down brave Ralph the pony.

“Where have you been?, mother shrilled. We were certain you were eaten, drowned or killed”. Covered in berry stains, torn shirt, “When I was your Age,” yelled dad. No lecture since would ever dampen my spirit of adventure- or take away the day I had had, caught in the rain….

 

TELL A POET THAT- From Alice

I sat a long while with Godfrey’s sister Alice’s latest packet of writings..yes, her poetry remained dreadful,some of the worst she had ever shared, but I read it over with a strong sense that Alice’s summer in Nova Scotia had touched the curmudgeon in places no person had ever tried.. 

“The folks of Knockfollie’s Bridge recall my brother Godfrey with fondness,” Alice wrote, even having all beets removed from the only grocers in his memory. My friend, Nudge and I have been inviting ourselves to fish suppers, adding insighds to my book- “Alice- A life In praise of Myself”

Here in Canada, all of it, we drive “on the right”. Alice and Nudge thought this ridiculous, and in rental car, roared about as they would in Wales.

Alice indeed shares her “insighds”, with a brown boat to catch, and a lot of pranks left in her poke….TELL A POET THAT- from Alice-

I was recently informed- “Farmers do not plow, they cultivate”. We passed a field with such sweaty a chap,  on a day already warm. Sunrise of boysenberry swirls of hokey-pokey cream and crimson, tinged in wild mint. Tell  a poet that, tell a poet here down east, the summer nights don’t cool, the stars brighter than there. The poet may reply, I recall they are- “A blanket for the olders over heather, their fire, harbor home and safety to the bold navigator”.

Tell a poet, it is raining out, Nudge wear my hat. Cold the wet drips down spout, rusts the hinge, in the sodden apple tree bedraggled chickens cringe. don we boots and stalwart fourth, gather the hens in safe with me- and we shall pass the rainy eve over eggy toast for tea.

Tell a poet the delight of outdoor clothes line. “I ran to grab a passing verse, like laundry dry on end of day. Thunder in the hills a griping, storm is on her way. Scent of summer with first drops of rain, new mown hay, sweet on clean sheet splats…Ah tell a poet that.

Eau Duh Colon’- I’m oft asked of the perfume I wear, asked Alice is it sweet essence from France? From France do tell?  “I dab on baked beans, baked beans on fair skin, and behind my ears baked beans from a tin. Tell a poet how a poet may describe it- baked beans.

Tell a poet of Nudge and I as as two more “Tramps in Mudtime”. Squelch, did we squelch round Tinhorn Bay, with my stick moist things to slay, squelch flotsam flat. Squelch we muddy knee to hips, two tramps and greasy wrapped up fish and chips. Oh a good long walk with you, the snizz and crackle of hot deep fat, salt and malt vinegar, but tell a poet that.

Today in need to be alone, with my stick set out a stroll. I sat on a bench, wondering if I am thought of fondly back home. I waited for family or child come by so I could, with my stick quick flick to the sand their ice cream cone. And soon came a lad, (they always did) sticky of face, ignoring the warnings of his nit-picking dad.

As the wee brat drew boldly closer to me, I noted his rubber boots, odd haircut, the image at six of my late brother, Godfrey. I glared at the child in my best curmudgeon, such nerve, the young nipper not to take fright. What happened next left me in utter shock, he held out his ice cream to give me a bite….

No front teeth, dripping pink cone in grubby hand, I was not shocked or revolted, “No thank you my dear” came from some place deep inside me, I gathered my stick up and bolted.

Rundown Motel for the night?, tell a poet that. She may write- Rustic Roadside Inn steeped in history. Old couple down the hall inform me, “First sign of spring is a warm waft of Pig Farm cross the valley”. Hourly the train rattles by neath your rooms only window, tell a poet romantic the three a.m. trains roar. Wobbly table, one threadbare towel, someone has pried open the toilet door…

We re-bequethed The Outhouse Museum to one Domestos Harpic and her silent husband Edgar.  Fond friends of Godfrey, would weed and tend it. Our sojourn sadly soon over, we invited ourselves again to fried fish supper for to end it.. tell a poet of such an adventure we must end it…

And the ship we sail on, steam home to Wales on is painted brown. Give me a poet describe such a thing, from Melbourne to London town, a ships proper color be red, or silver to keep up with the clouds, our ship was brown.

I covet greasy life vest, should I consume herring, trip over a bollard and drown. the ship lists like Lloyd our village drunkard in Batley, it’s name on the bow changed, painted over and over yet again. The ship is crewed by wayward sailors, homeward bound like Nudge and me. What is not painted brown is worn away wood or rusty. Herring is served in some form breakfast, lunch and tea…Nudge feels an epic poem neath my pen, but Ah, tell a poet that again.. from Alice.

THE LAND OF CEDARS- James Bay

A minor ditty, a memoir for a local writing contest. A winner?- be still my heart, wait and see… 

In the middles pages of my friend, the Vagabond Godfrey’s journal- “Canadian Road Apples”- I found a pressed sprig of cedar, brown and brittle with age.

“Cedar for luck”, I recall he whispered, “a noble and most forgiving tree”. Stalwart in muddy boots and old kilt, headed up Menzies Street with me, I desired a ticket for the lottery.

Being from Wales, Godfrey chuckled at the houses I called “old”. Arm in arm we two strolled, the bustle of December in James Bay. We greased our chins on fish and chips, and slurped milkshakes at a small cafe’. From a corner grocer, bought that ticket, won a free play.

Godfrey pointed out where once he had a “mishap with foam” in the corner laundry-mat. The cedar where ,” Larry the Free Advice Wino” sat.   I never cashed in that free ticket…

Last summer, a rare rainy, misty day. Riding the bus, through the narrow side streets of James Bay.  I looked out from the window grimed with spray, a young man sat, smiling up at me. Why would a lad on a July afternoon, touch his cap and nod to a passing old lady?

He wore baggy plaid shorts, muddy boots,  held a battered suitcase, old faded shirt, same missing tooth. The picture in youth of my Vagabond, Godfrey.

I could not get off at the light, another elder asked, “are you alright”?

Rarely now do I wander about James Bay-but oft sit neath the Advice Wino’s cedar tree, I leave it to you story tellers, share in her mystery.

With thanks to Ginger and Lonewolf- “in my friends house are many toilets”..

WINDFALL- From Godfrey and Worzel

Beatrice, though shy also liked to write her thoughts, wrote to of November, in vingetes on scrap paper, taking note of seasons passing or just to remember.   On this first morning cold, Beatrice needed thick socks, and her fleece jacket warm, now fifteen years old.  “Godfrey left it to me, she wrote, merino wool knit, burgundy and gold, with name of a sailing ship and dragon crest embroidered on one arm”. Beatrice cherished the baggy jacket cold days on the farm.  there were clearly signs of age and wear, cuffs gone, elbows darned, marks from sparks of campfire, nicked pocket on barbed wire when she hopped the paddock fence. Or perhaps Godfrey did that, (he never used the gate).  ” I suppose , she pondered, one day it will just disintegrate.”

He wrote me when he won the jacket in a pool game. “I sought the small town pub a Sunday afternoon. To sip lemonade, sit quiet pen and notebook in hand. As befits a vagabond all did not go as planned…twas a cool day in Temuka I wandered to the pub, I could hear the singing from inside, smell the lovely aroma of fish and chips being fried.    “I stowed my suitcase by the bar, the room was strum with soft guitar, “Sad Movies” being sung by a group in the corner. A cricket match was on the old T.V.. Small town folk over beer regarded me, laughing at the tourist in my jacket, shredded sleeve, they were welcoming though, not nasty. Introductions all about, the bar-keeps mother’s name was Daphne, we chatted over dislike of beets and the small town of Temuka.

She boldly asked of my sleeve, chewed off by errant calves. “I said I thought I hung it in a place calves could not get, but they did” Daphne’s son was playing pool, she talked him into a wee bet.  She hollarred, “look at this nice chap, chewed by calves and woebegone, play him for a fish dinner and the flash sailor’s fleece you have on”. His name was Mata, a very large fellow, mainly composed of leather and tattoo. I had never even held a pool cue.

The pub had filled, the singing from the back corner stilled. I broke with a crack, shot a bank, two lucky smancks and an elegant caroom. I potted every ball, there were photos of old times, race horses and rugby players on the wall.

Very late that night we had the best fish dinner ever, and I spent the whole of Monday with the group who had been singing, dipping sheep for parasites together.   Enjoyed another evening and hard fought pool game, Sunday I had came a stranger who disliked beets, on Tuesday sank my last eight ball…the ship’s name on the sleeve of my fine, new jacket is “Windfall”.

Beatrice has never lost the hill walker’s stride of her youth long ago. She pauses to listen to the land, wood smoke smell of early winter, damp wool, distant pig-pen. Halter and lead in hand she heads toward her farm’s north end. old friend P.T. The Good has his wagon parked near now, retired from the road. She will visit him tomorrow, but is out to fetch the Belgian mare, her goats and ponies will follow.

Neath the apple trees, cheeky goat faces, perfect trees to scratch itchy places, soft, frosty nickers of mare’s welcome. They have, the donkeys, goats and horses, eaten up the apples and pears as every autumn they do. Pockets are nosed for treats, leave traces of horse slobber green down the sleeves of her old fleece. It has been a fine year…thick manes for cold hands tucked under gently warm..a November passage for Beatrice, in Wales on Sonsie Farm..