APRICOT CHICKEN- from Godfrey

Worzel here, ever try to duplicate a much loved dish from your travels?,  Godfrey did , when he pined it was for the Australian food he gorged on.” I believe, he wrote, it was redolent of sun and soil and simple life always outdoors”. I oft make apricot chicken now, on Tuesdays of course. 

I have always loved chickens, as a lad all about our home they ranged free, they gobbled the beets I threw out the window each morning, provided fine, fresh eggs perfect for chippy tea.

Landing up in Australia, I was hungry for adventure, the pies, peas and damper, the bully beef I scoffed left the memory of beets and herring, far away back home cross the sea.

I was smitten by her beauty, the bonny, sunburned faces, the brown, rolling hills, the folks welcomed me, I gloried in Vegemite, fresh fish, roast pumpkin, and every corner I roamed there was Apricot Chicken.

Boiled and broiled , sour and sweet, twice just the apricots, once just the chicken feet. I had it with sauces, chunky and smooth,even tough old rooster full of pin feathers barely removed.

I have always loved chickens…running for the food scraps, fighting over tinned spaghetti, enjoying a dust bath, hot itchy afternoons. Try it baked in Russian Dressing, or freeze dried in a packet for to camp. And shared with friends, neath the southern stars, round the fire at the fruit pickers camp..

Of course, I also learned early how deftly beetroot could be hidden in burger and sandwich roll…indeed I learned.

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SOUTHERN SUMMER- How it slips in sideways- Bye Godfrey

Worzel here, it is Thanksgiving Day, storm in the forecast. Turkey and stewed Gooseberries for supper, a few strollers out early round the harbor, the red and white ship that never leaves is actually gone from it’s mooring below my Worry Stone. Another rejection letter came in yesterday’s mail- which I added to our growing pantheon of such letters..What would Godfrey say?..”Well, he would smile, for every rejection Worzel, we have raised awareness as to the horror of beets, and hopefully set one more reader to thinking of whirled peas”  I found this story in his first hand-bound journal, posted home to Beatrice, dated 1973.  A joyous paen to a young man’s first southern summer.  Aotearoa in October, long sea voyage nearly over. Dawn still a blur to the horizon…burrr, keep warm fleece and wooly hat on. Land slips in sideways, scent it first far off, teatree, forest, flowers, farmyard. Sidle shy like summer will, I am told, sail in down the narrow harbor. Gorse flowers gold, hills steep and shades of green welcoming the tramper bold. Sea spray a memory, savoury pie, mineral bath, big pot of billy tea, spaghetti on toast, coal smoke lingering in the valley, Buller River, narrow winding tracks to the West Coast. Water tank flows over, boots soaked, left out to air too near the down spout of  old hut,  refuge from the sideways wind and deluge. Vagabond at the only window looking out, he has letters to write, as the gray day becomes one with the night. He cannot see the mountains, or ocean or sky, it is as if all is suspended, setting out with early morning in a dripping world when storm has ended. “Godfrey writes- day after day, when he feels he may end up as moldy as the stack of ancient Reader’s Digest’s , piled by the Youth Hostel door” (And knowing without looking I have read them all before). Summer slides up behind, with a warm breeze on your back. All that mingy rain gear stuffed deep in your pack. The days are long and full of things the vagabond has never seen. Sheep bleached clean on steep green hills, waterfalls you can drink from, the worlds best boysenberry ice-cream. Waves are to be surfed, golden sand to be barefoot walked on. Fish and Chips hot and greasy fill the ever hungry vagabond. Hottest day ever, heralds the New Year. Pavlova, sausage sizzle, Lion red cold beer. With a taste of  lemonade, southern summer slips in sideways. Smell of hot tar, old Morris Minor car, onions frying burger bar. Find a patch of cool shade, read your mail. News from away, write them back next rainy day. Hitching slow, money low, valley where the apples grow. Before the nights get cool and summer gives her gold to fall- we must pick and pack it all. Apple, apricot, raspberry, pear. Cash in pocket, Autumn in the air. Southern summer, softly as she came, slips away, she is gone, made of thorn and bone, leaves Godfrey scuffing through the fallen leaves on his own. And at night he is snug, beneath the night skies star blanket, in wonder at the glory, he will search for the words to tell the southern summer’s story.