BROWN MUDDY BOOTS- From Godfrey

Worzel here, in old age, happy today looking back. A fond memory to share?. Well, one day at our luggage shop, a cake, sandwich and vegetable tray intended for a funeral  was dropped off by mistake. My husband Garnet, and Godfrey reckoning it was a surprise treat for their brave hunting down of a mouse that morning, ate it.  

When I got home, they were desecrating the carrot cake, oblivious of the purple writing- “Rest In Peace Muriel”…they had saved me the icing roses and soggy walnuts Godfrey had picked out. 

I had long promised never to torment my friend with beets, (he heartily disliked them). . I rang the Funeral Home before sending them off to apologise, explaining that just punishment would be to corner Godfrey on the subject of beets, and not let him leave. Garnet crept home late, without Godfrey, the vagabond reappearing three days later, claiming he had been lured into a corn maze.  

Our apartment building is old, the floors warped and splintery. To this day, one of Godfrey’s old boots wedges the toilet door closed, in lieu of a latch. To say the least, his memory is everywhere. 

Was a very young poet- “Do not hitchhike”warned my Ma- “you will be left with no shoes on the roadside”. Shrill rang her words as a beet grower pulled to the side. A high, shiny ute with a beet painted on the red door, I accepted the lift, despite worry over beets, it was raining and well after four.

As I settled inside the chap spoke of beets, across the ranges divide, beets on filled roll, beets in slibber sauce, beets in fine silver bowls, roasted on fire coals, beets stuffed in beets stuffed inside a fat goose, for dessert double beet, beet chocolate mousse.

With rare pause in telling how his crop covered many a hectare, he’d a house on a hill with gold plumbing in the loos, and every day wore a new pair of shoes. “Everyday because I can”. I do not suit the common, brown muddy boot”. He was a peculiar man.

When asked, I’d say in my pre-poet days, my background was in sales. “I ran a manure stand back home in Wales”. By pail, gunny sack, or shovel it yourself from the heap around back. And I tried to save every penny, dreaming of places my brown muddy boots would take me.

Oft in summer, early mornings when I stayed at Worzel’s home in the city. Young trampers were a plenty trail bound from bus and ferry. This is an island that calls to the bold and the ruggedy. With shiny new boots, flash gear in clean pack, I saw many set out, but none looked the same heading back. Sandy and hungry, sun, wind burned, wet and ruddy, you can bet those boots were now soft, scuffed and muddy.

Stories told round hostel table- tell of bear prints in sand, deep salal and bracken fern, Cape Scott, Mystic Susiat Falls, back home be it Hamburg or Melbourne, tell of the brown muddy boots they would earn.

On such a trek, Godfrey caught from the rocks with lucky cast a fat salmon for us three. We gave thanks, and stuffed it with thimble berries, cracker crumbs, dried onion, an apple, our last precious butter. We roasted the fish over clean alder fire. No royals or rich folk ever feasted finer, than we with murmur of out going tide, and slept deep neath the stars as our brown muddy boots dried.

Found a cow path came I, a vagabond strolling, from over the borders southwest, happy to be free of town living, I sat back neath a pear tree to rest. Kicked off my boots, (A tad muddy and damp), hung month old socks from a branch to air dry. Remember the feel of bare feet in soft grass? If not, I suggest you seek out a fresh patch and try…From Godfrey.

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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.

ADELAIDE’S STORY- From Worzel

Godfrey “fehed” and” poo-pahed” over the vintage , red and black plaid steamer trunk we had dragged home. He found my find utterly ridiculous, but I knew the trunks story would one day be told..Adelaide’s story…

Elderly, bow-legged, hobo-worn, she spoke in a manner both direct and genteel-” you have my trunk, the plaid one, she pointed. “A scrap dealer pinched it as it aired neath a tree, I am Adelaide, once a chambermaid, this trunk means the world to me.  “While you just stand there, I will tell the long story, of the red and black trunk, the places its been, the tale of a wayward “Lady in Waiting”, who once turned down sheets for The Queen.

My old dad, village drunk, bought the plaid trunk, he was so very proud of me, last time I saw him we parted at a pub, after seeing me off to Piccadilly. “I entered service, a proper young lady, on the royal Yacht “Britannia” we journeyed down under, an indiscretion rendered my life asunder, placed disgraced on the streets of Melbourne, I sat alone on my trunk of plaid, was caught being naughty in a linen closet, with Marvin the Butler’s lad.

Alas and alack! the pub I found work in was rowdy and mean. they laughed at me, Adelaide the barmaid, no more fine sheets, no more Queen. “Singing, he was, down Flinders street, a handsome young chap I chanced meet. Filled the plaid trunk, our few things to stow, away, away, to the hot wild Outback we’d go. My Benny went a’ droving oft months far away, restless, a writer of bush ballads he. But he had a great heart, rode a sturdy blue-grey, and Benny always returned home to me. “When fortune failed us we left station for city, walked hand in hand down the quay cool of evening. Sitting on my old steamer trunk, I told Benny stories of my home in wales cross the sea. “Middle years brought deeper longing for home, Benny now skilled in the Carpenter’s trade, hired on and soon, a long sea voyage by schooner we made”.

My plaid trunk full of brass tacks and nails, and rolls of canvas for mending the sails, she foundered in  southerly gales off Chile- but my old battered trunk floated free, we washed ashore with the sail cloth and only a rag that my knickers had been. Adelaide the survivor, long ago I turned down fine sheets for The Queen…”On the beach we sat, kept cheerful with raw fish and song, stood on my plaid trunk, waving my knickers , rescue came before sunburn or thirst, we loaded my precious plaid  trunk first, dropped off at a dock, (they were bound for Peru), traded nails and cloth for an old piebald mule, along with a rickety cart, without map or clue, for far north places, dawn saw us, still singing depart.

“My trunk as a stage, Benny sang his bush ballads on the streets of Panama City, “I told sad tales of our sea trials, the troubles we’d seen, since I’d dallied in that closet with a butler, and upset The Queen. Besides a stage, a wind break, a shelter, alas with space only in it for one, my trunk was a refuge from beach crabs, and cast pleasent, cool shade from the sun.” A place to rest when hitching a ride, and though lacking handles, all we owned those years we have roamed fit neatly inside. “in a long out dated travel guide- “Exploring America’s South”, is a photo of Benny, the trunk and I at the Yazoo River’s mouth. “That hole in the rear? , very small to the right?, happened when my trunk was lost overnight, what made the gouge, I do not know, was in the seedy and sad, Winnipeg Bus depot…to make short story long, speed narrative on, my trunk was purloined from neath trees on a lawn, we were sleeping out, when at Tuesday’s dawn, the coppers came and drove us away, despite my plea, the old plaid trunk was lost to Benny and me. The Queen’s portrait hung high on the wall, downtown at the R.C.M.P. Square, flattened grass was all I saw, when finally we were set free.

We searched junkyards, pawnbrokers, the swap meet, to no avail. Until one day on the #50 Bus, an odd young man rose and gave me his seat, told me he heartily disliked beets- a story he told then, in verse ,of a trunk in the window of a luggage shop, not asking his name, I made the bus driver stop, a block from Godfrey’s Luggage Sales, you have my old plaid trunk, remove it please, so Benny and I can may get on our way home to Wales.

It could not have been Godfrey, she met on the bus, simply could not have been. But thus ends in mystery the saga of Adelaide, once a lady in waiting, she turned down sheets for The Queen.  I picture the odd pair now, heading east cross the prairies , heading home to that Welsh valley green, Benny singer of bush ballads, and a once refined lady with her steamer trunk, she turned down sheets for The Queen..

BALLAD OF THE BAKERY- From Worzel

Godfrey could be single minded, yes, claimed crimson vegetables gave him hives, the sight of beets made him itchy..but I never knew a time in 28 years, he would ever pass by a bakery.

“When I was a small scruffy lad, said he, I’d escape the grip of Ma’s large hand or when my wayward Dad was somewhere else, I’d run straight to the bakers on the High Street, drool on the glass at the treaties displayed on the shelf.

Oh the Eccles Cakes, the Neenish Tarts, biscuits, and Scones plump with currants! The two Krept Sisters ran the shop, four generations strong. Old Mother Krept swatted me with her broom if I fogged up her windows to long.

Several Mulgrews worked the bakery counter and were nicer to me. I’d charm Audrey Mulgrew to come to the door, and give me a broken ginger nut or whatever had fallen on the floor. How I loved Krept Bakery. Ma blamed herself for my love of sweets, she said, “When I was carrying Godfrey, I ate a half pound of fudge, intended for his Grandmother. “To cover my crime I cooked up another and ate half of that pan to, shared the fudge with Granny and nobody ever knew”

All things Yeast! Like hobo toast, over the fire charred on a stick, slice it thick, the bread homemade, slather with butter and marmalade.

“I was lucky said Godfrey, sister Alice oddly abhorred sugar, but rolled her holiday lollies in dog hair so I could not snitch them ever from her. My clever sister once made chocolates, truffles she filled with an onion boullion cube, she wrapped them for me pretty with a bow and a card, I gulped two at once, got a nosebleed from the gagging. Oh sister Alice and Ma laughed so hard”

..All things butter! Grandma taught me to bake at an early age, from the first sticky page of her Edmond’s Cookbook, we made Anzac Biscuits. She did not want me to hang about the bakery, having rowed with Mother Krept many years ago. She claimed Mildred Krept was a trollop, who kept a messy house, what Mildred thought of Granny I did not want to know”.

All things Spice! To woo my Clementine lovely  Fish Lady’s Daughter, I made a batch of doughnuts, rolled in icing, spiced with nutmeg, brought them to her warm in a greasy paper sack. So delighted was my Clementine she slung me over her shoulder, carried me dancing from the fish shop and out round the back.

Lamingtons!! The softest sponge cake filled with sweet cream, rolled in coconut. When I dream it is my first day in Melbourne Australia, city big and busy all about me. I must have eaten that day at least one dozen Lamingtons, washed down with a pot of billy tea.

In those heady, early days I owned a good shirt, and presentable kilt in my suitcase folded neat, when invited nice places, cautious of the rampant beet, when dinner was over out came The Pavlova, the crackle of the sweet crust, ooze of marshmallow, oh the raspberries tart. I learned to make Pavlova, this decedent work of art

All things sweet! I still gaze in bakeshop windows, though as Worzel will attest, I no longer drool or steam up the glass. On Tuesdays I buy Cream Buns to enjoy in the park, sing a ballad of the bakery, relaxing in the grass.