SAY YES TO NO- From Godfrey and Worzel

Worzel here, While his distaste for beets is well documented, Godfrey was fond of most else, besides moths, closed in spaces, very loud children, wolves, and bottled cherry syrup, the shape of which he invariably dropped. 

He abhored violence and all forms of bigotry, – Godfrey loved words. He saw no need to contort words in rhyme, spelled them to suit his very basic thoughts, and oft confounded me with his ability to find wisdom, if not logic in utter nonsense.

My co-writer, Beatrice, back home in Wales, her tenants Adelaide and Benny, along with Godfrey’s sister Alice wished to contribute to this story, to Beatrice’s dismay- they do. 

Godfrey writes- Was a hot summer day, by the river I lay, clear water cooling bare feet. Say yes to no worries thought I, with a pack of warm Mirabel Plums for a treat. They were wrapped in newspaper- on a remnant I read- “Simon Bajak has fled”!.

Simon Bajak has fled, taking folks hard earned money left in his trust, Loose the hounds on Simon’s track, make him pay it all back. Say yes to no more bad behavior in future.

In your tropical clime, thought Godfrey, you may be sunburned the very first day, accosted by crabs and sand fleas on the shore, bonked in the head with a volleyball, have no where to spend that money but one dusty store. One shop with nothing but nappies and cat food to pay for.

A Blatherskite stood on her apple crate- a netter-cap. Voice bigger than she was spoke out over city honking and roar. A few paused to listen to her wisdom, as Godfrey did. Most hurried by, as Margretta urged all caring folk to say- “Yes To No More Weapons and War”

My Paludal a haystack, the sky my T.V. set, I am a fig picker- finest career a tatterdemallion can get. Say yes to no bruised fruit, no worms, no caterpillars the boss lady told me. Indeed, understood I replied from high in my Fig tree.

Say yes to no bruised figs or feelings say yes to full fig bins filled to the hilt. Say yes to no cold rain and wind swath cross the orchard, say yes to no cold, damp draft up my kilt.

Beatrice’s verse- She and Godfrey grew up together, lifelong friends- I cherish her friendship to. 

Quenders, Lues, Rawolfia to, all these afflictions I find wrong with you. An excess of Vril perhaps?….Yaws and a Wen, say yes to no checkups! young Godfrey cried, refused to ever see Dr Uren and his, scary old office again.

“We said yes to no”, wrote rogue rovers Benny and Adelaide. Came upon a penned pheasant one journey we made, for we sought yellow houses cool evening, quite late, we meandered onto a royal estate.

“Ate it we did”. For being hungry lit a gypsy fire, neath a broad young oak tree. We stuffed our plump bird with scone crumb and spices, fresh foraged herb, and sauce of sweetened heath berry. “Twas feasting and song till the law came along”. We said yes to their no”, cheeked elderly Adelaide and Benny.

Sister Alice would never be left out…

“What question is this for a full on prankster?, Alice slurped her tea when I asked her. Had she ever said yes to no?. Why every work day fitting shoes in the shop, and my hobby of tormenting Brian the town cop.

Brian came in for new shoes. I chose a fine pair for him, white leather “Winkle Pickers” two times his size. When he put them on, I told wee Brian they would make fine swim fins, if need did arise- they are lovely, do buy them.

I said yes to his no, Brian stood obdurate, a crowd gathered outside the shop in the High Street, he said no to my yes, shoes still on his feet. I said yes to to no and teased Brian to no avail. In white “Winkle Pickers- Obstruction of the Law! -he cried, hauled me off to Skibereen jail…

After dinner I drew on my cell wall, in denture paste someone left neath my cot underside. No artiste, I drew a portrait of myself, Alice, with words of curmudgeon pride.

“Say yes to no and no to yes and worry not over the state of your stockings and dress”. Let your heart let loose free chortle and guffaw, and mind where you step when chased over wet grass, fleeing from portly Brian wee arm of the law”.

Oh, Alice….my word. 

“Say yes to no beets” The vagabond Godfrey, read this on a sign post Quinquenium years ago. Wise words indeed, thought he. And in good Godfrey fashion, sought out ant free shade- found pen and notebook for to write and share it with me.

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MY NEPHEW- ICARUS- From Worzel

My younger brother, Cudberth and I have always shared a firm bond. Godfrey,  in the early days of our friendship helped Cudberth, a “Noctiphobe”, deal with his fear of the night sky.

It was ridiculous..our stepmother, Mrs Gibberflat sewed Cudberth a night hat with an umbrella on top, so he could not see up. Cudberth tripped in the pansies, chipping two teeth, and it was awkward in the car. Shades were drawn early, he boarded up his window, we missed any event after dark. “It is too wide and large ,the sky,” Cudberth sobbed. 

At harvest time,  Fillipendula, Inkerman and I rode with our dad on tractor or combine. Often he worked all night, the only time he and I ever talked, the stars touched the horizon at dawn, there was often distant lightning, the aurora danced in her green veils, my brother missed out.  

It was meeting Godfrey helped, the three of us sunk our canoe, and had to camp overnight in a farmer’s field. We dragged ourselves from the slough, built a fire and cooked “Spam”. We were having great fun, until Cudberth realized it was dark, we left him crawl under the canoe- but he was outside- a start. 

That summer with Godfrey, he learned slowly not to fear owls, bats, yip of coyote, stars, shooting stars, nights black of stars, burnt dinner, cleaning fish, smoke in his eyes, spiders, damp jeans, skunk odors, drowning and bulls.

Cudberth was a late bloomer, only leaving home the day our house was torn down. He pursued teaching as a career, married Miss Edith Carp, and fathered twins Cynthia and Maud. It was their youngest, Jack Thomas who grappled my heart. The children were read  “Godfrey” stories at bedtime, the twins kept in line by threat of sending them to sister Alice in Wales. To Jack Thomas, Godfrey was a folk hero, ” I want to go to sister Alice in Wales”, he stated, chin out.

Being educators, Cudberth and Edith with summers off, piled the family out adventuring, every two years visiting us. The girls were oddly shy- not Jack Thomas, and secretly I called him “Icarus”. 

He was ever looking upward, always asking- “Whats beyond the trees, Auntie?, whats above how far I can see?.  He disliked beets, loved riding on the #50 bus. I’d treat the little chap to cream buns at the bakery, as had Godfrey. He was fearless in the face of Mrs Feerce, our rude landlady.

At our lakeside cabin, Jack Thomas climbed the highest, dove the deepest, caught his first trout. He found chasing his mother with fish guts hilarious, stuck raven feathers in the cap he never took off, my nephew “Icarus”.

In school, Jack Thomas went full on Godfrey. His stories and reports, though not composed in rhyme, were “Glib beyond his years, and never pertaining to the subject matter being taught”. He wrote a poem in Welsh, used naughty idioms and was caught. Translated crankily by custodian Mr Hughes , He had to write one thousand times- “My Poem Failed To Amuse’.

Ever looking upward, “Jack Thomas Edelpilz, his next teacher would nag, “do not bring frozen dead things found by the road to class in your book bag”. His mother, Edith suggested music as an outlet for his creative energies. Eager, willing to go along, he asked for a brass gong to play. Well…thought Cudberth, what can possibly go wrong with his choice of a bright, shiny gong?.

Edith scolded Cudberth, “All we dreamed of was a normal family, he asked for Haggis on his birthday, his friends are found deep in books and poetry. Very bad influence, your Vagabond Godfrey”.

At twelve, Jack Thomas spent the entire summer with us. He wrote-

Nine old Men- Nine old men sat in a row discussing beets. Nine old men sat in a row. I wonder if ever there were ten old men?, Godfrey pondered with a frown, his voice polite and low.

The tenth old man sat on his own. For he grew beets, he knew beets, did not disbarge or eschew beets.

Nine old men sit watching out the cafe’ window. A boy totes  heavy gong home from school  through the snow, his boots squeak in it, and pelted with ice-balls, form tears on his chin frozen rime. He recalls raven’s feathers, dreams of summertime, the back roads west, the horse he will ride, sun on bareback, sea life in the tide pools ocean side.

Even when it poured, the lad was never bored, and though had never met Godfrey, read through tattered journals and faded old letters with me. He never tired of it, like Godfrey, I ‘d tip him from the comforts of my old turquoise chair, curled deep in that old chair he’d sit.

“When I an grown, said he, “I wish to be a poet and professional fig picker like Godfrey” My brother, Cudberth called, “Jack Thomas wrote a cheeky essay, was supposed to be about “Mussolini”. Yet he wrote of “The Blight Of Beets in Wartime Italy”. He was graded a double minus “D”. “I drew the line at the monk’s tonsure hair cut, kilt to be worn only on a Sunday, not to tease his sisters with Haggis, is his visit away helping Jack Thomas look at life more serious?”.

Not important, I replied, these are mere and minor things.  Just promise you will keep him from the lure of high flight on waxen wings.

My ranch raised husband Garnet, never “Sold His Saddle”, in the cluttered corner of our flat, among  our many books, it still sat. And the bridle he made at Jack Thomas age hung on our wall, I also often liked to feel the reins he wove of soft, braided leather. The city boy reckoned that “to ride a fine horse, must be close enough to wings of wax and feather”.

We have good friends with horses. Next family visit, Jack Thomas chose “Paddlefoot” the bold, blue roan for his own. I sat high on a dune, my arthritis paining me, with Edith complaining about her family.

Content to watch them gallop in the surf from bridge to bay, Cudberth rode like a sack of spuds, the twins on matching chestnuts racing past, and bounding in the surf last, the roan leaped, rode my nephew face to the sun, arms out swept..prepared to take flight as the boy of myth had done. Only to myself I call him “Icarus”.

Grown handsome and tall now, off to study in a big American city. Camera taped to helmet, on bicycle he races, reckless escaping from the maze of downtown hill and narrow alley. He takes flight with joy down the coast highway, raven feathers tied behind, he writes- “Do not ever worry over me, dear old Auntie. (old Auntie indeed)

Nine Things I Wish For when an old Man- wrote my nephew “Icarus’.

To swim with the stream, to Morris dance in purple socks with bells, to see “The Collected wisdom of Godfrey” in print, Hear my gong sound out one year of world peace, that my legs still pedal and thumb point, roast wieners on a Olympic Flame, smell every day cinnamon and demerara sugar, have crossed every page in my school atlas, to still not fear flying, that tad too close to the sun….

THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING AWE INSPIRED- From Godfrey

Worzel here- Down home on Wharf Street, always random, season of the year rarely an issue, we enjoy the brief and spectacular “Irish Sunset'”, a term that Godfrey coined. For perhaps five minutes at eve the wending street of heritage brick buildings is washed in a brilliant orange glow.

The worn out grass and trees of the tent camp below our window are lit the most vivid green. Campers pause, look skyward and west cross the harbor.The cops and by-law officers relax. The young woman serving tables in the corner patio bar rests her tray, shares delight in the beauty until the boss barks her back to work…

Folks eating in the cool, dark sushi-bar miss out. Even the silvery fittings on the carriage horses’ harness glint in the light as she waits at the cross walk. City workers cease banging trash cans. Leaning from my window, I cannot hear “10 Men”, a lost soul who paces the waterfront most days shouting- “I am 10 men, I am the federal Government!”….IO Men is there, relaxing on the park steps, ever present plastic cup in hand, basking in the peace of “Irish Sunset”…

Time waits for us, despite all we remain awe inspired.

Wrote Godfrey on the subject- From the age I could waddle, nappy dragging behind, Grandma swung me to the sky, I was cherished and held, I loved how the baking in her warm cottage smelled, her songs as she worked, stepping out in her old frock to dance, never cranky or tired. Ma complained, “She is a drunken old sot” But she spoke in rhyme, taught me to stay awe inspired…

I keep a worn photo of the long past elders, deep in my suitcase where it stays flat and dry, they said Grandpa had scars inside, deep where no one can see. A limp in one leg, mild disrespect for authority. He was a fisher- job in itself awe inspiring, he took us out when I was big enough to float, set nets and bait lines. “Go when wind and tide tells you”, Godfrey, never turn your back on the swell, always respect the sea”. Grandpa said little else, yet never took a day on the water for granted, wisdom that awe inspired me.

Stocky legs deep in wet grass he stands, dappled back steaming dry after summer shower, he is wary. Eight years old, carrot in hand I am walking out to my new pony. He need not worry, for the hand that holds the treat, wiped clean on my shirt, will never hurt him.

The glossy coat I keep brushed free of dust and burr, will give way to winter guard hairs and fuzzy whisker.The adventures we share as I warm cold hands neath thick mane, bed the pony down in clean deep straw…awakens the poet growing in me, carries us places that inspire and awe.

I grew up believing in staying awe inspired- “Given to woolgathering, Godfrey,  I regret will amount to nothing”. Twas written in a letter sent from school to my old Ma. I strolled home most days,seeking treasure along the hedge row, from a distance could hear Ma shouting, and the music when my sister Alice played the piano.

I left home for vagabonding, was once left on my own with a heavy iron anvil, and two angry cats in the same box. Was on a remote track, with nebulous shade from one of those odd trees rooted in rock. We had lightened the load of the traveler’s horse drawn wagon, to spare him a uphill pull, feeling his oats Paddy took off at a trot, leaving me with the cats and anvil for to walk.

In my hitching career, was once picked up, the same day by three separate chaps named Verne in same make of car, a brown sedan. Never so welcome was the distant speck of gold, came Heidi, who drove a yellow Bongo Van.

Without question or qualm Heidi stopped, drove myself, the cats and anvil, following tracks and signs of horse to where they finally ended at our camp riverside. Inspired, and in awe of gypsy life, she stayed a month with us, befriended a horse who disliked everybody, down the Rakaia River they would ride.

For she grew up dreaming of being a hippie, defying, horrifying the parents who named her Heidi…Good on ya Heidi, long may you seek the wild mushroom, glean the wisdom from stream side plants, long may you live in joy and awe inspired, and on the bluffs of East Sooke may you dance.

Some thoughts from Godfrey..

HE WROTE A SEA SHANTY- For Sandy

She was a Coleopterist..indeed, I pondered, how Godfrey would enjoy this mornings obituaries, which in his passing I adopted his hobby of reading. “Where ere I wander, said long ago Godfrey, I can find a paper with an obituary.”The life stories, the pathos, the love, and adventure, to the obits to learn I turn”

Yet oddly, he sat quiet, over the paper this summer morning, had not touched his “Sandwish”of four types of toast, rye on top, layered with marmalade, was idly stirring his tea, which Godfrey never did, considering it bad luck. “I knew this chap in the obits, he nodded to me, briefly, long ago, he was a scholar and a hippie..

Since Godfrey could remember, he listened for the singing from dockside pubs, and songs of fishers calling cross the harbor. A boyhood dreaming of long journeys by sea, thus gleaning the wisdom he could weave one day, into a shanty.

So he waited, waited patiently, for the words to come to him with the tide. Godfrey did make that long, sea journey, and met the young Sandy while hitching a ride. “Was a Volkswagen Van stopped, space was made for me, all long haired chaps named Pete, Pat, Jack and Sandy, there was more than one Sandy and each one was a hippie”.

On a gulf island road, passing hay fields  hot and dusty, in the Volkswagen Van was crammed the vagabond Godfrey, there were apple trees laden, for it was late summer, cedar split rail fences silver with age. “We stopped for chips, so good and greasy, in the islands only small village”.

Every passing person who waved was a hippie, perhaps on this island I would find my sea shanty. Godfrey notes…”On my right hind leg, just above the tattoo, is a ragged scar I once showed you. Nicked it deep on the door of the van, piling out end of the ride, only the tattoo artist asked the scars story, I told her the old tale of a great group of hippies, three of which were named Sandy”

Twas the week an old chap name of “Nixon” resigned,  allover the news were words “Liar” and “Crook”, free from such rubbish we camped on a wide bay, potatoes and porridge to cook. “I recall the damp morning, the chipped cup of instant coffee, bitter and smoky from a can, sitting on a log, talking with this kindly lad- Sandy, who drove the old Volkswagen Van.

“From a foothills town I learned came he, drifted out west, a scholar and a hippie. He encouraged me that I could write that sea shanty.

Feel the warm, oily deck neath bare feet, convey in words the fear of swells higher that our mast”. Dodge the squalls, wonder how long the run of fair seas will last”. Sing of picking weevils from the flour, eating old, cold cod tongues and rancid “Burgoo”. Smell the Tea-Tree as we fetch exotic lands, no home to long for return to…

Much as I glean from your obituary, yours was a good life, and peace be the rest of the journey old friend Sandy.

Up a narrow island road, shadows pass in summer sun, on the  split glass dash of a Volkswagen Van, dented and old, it will not get past sixty, but none of that matters, it chugs along, driven by a hippie they are not all past and gone.

In the obit photo is no trace of the youth you used to be, clean shaven, dressed rather tidy…posed neath an oak tree, “I knew him briefly, we talked of scars, and August shooting stars and Nixon…was the summer I set out to write a shanty.”.

THREE PURSES-By Godfrey

Worzel here- This gem is a favorite of Godfrey’s eccentric sister Alice, who reports, “Very true, I get to poke my brother and get him paddled for snooping all in one poem”. Alice writes- “Our olde Ma refuses to be included in your written “saga”, but has made this clear, “I will have little to leave you but fond memory, bury the purse with the torn strap beside me”, From Ma.

Rarely do I write of my dear hearted Ma, but reminded I was of her this rainy morning by someone I saw. No, it was not a rusty, dented old car, or child hiding as I used to, in the shoe department of a big, noisy store. It was not even Haggis on a restaurant menu, but a woman like Ma, three large purses she wore.

Ma carried three purses, when apparently ladies of her time were labeled “odd” if they toted more than one. I recall as a lad the three purses Ma had, one was angry, for when she rummaged for money she rummaged with curses, which was rare. Her other purse held clove scented sweets, her hands smelled of cloves and raw wool when she spit in her palm to slick down my hair.

Her brown purse had a leather strap, frayed and torn, she caught it in a car door, a firey accident soon after Alice was born. When I asked her about it, my sister Alice, slapped me about the head. “Said, no one was hurt, but for the purse, shut up and go back to bed”.

And what of the elegant lady I saw, wearing large dark glasses, a film star maybe?…Was her third purse like Ma had, a mystery?, Ma’s was knitted and bulky, gray and pink plaid, unsightly, one day Alice dared me open the purse, it took one quick peek in to reveal it, Ma carried within a great brick in a sock, lest some yobbo perhaps, wish to steal it…

Rarely I write of my sweet natured Ma, along the High Street our old car did rattle and lurch. With a swat with her purse, prod in the back, she sent me off to chip shop or church.

And even when older in the ladies wear shop, while discussing and fussing over girdle or hem, it was I, Godfrey, never Alice, left with the three purses, holding them.

Not oft I write of my beloved Ma, and when I do think of Alice and I, the children we were. Pocket knife, bills, knitting wool, change of smalls, the troubles I know now she bore, so much living, stuffed in the three purses Ma wore.

KEVIN SLEPT THROUGH IT- The 57th Wisdom of Godfrey

Worzel here- The #50 bus comes along oft in Godfrey’s story- it runs the main city corridor here, he and I rode the bus often, Godfrey considered it a “Microcosim of the whirled”. I saw it as a red and white lozenge dispenser that spewed me out at rides end somewhat tattered round the edges. Only Godfrey could find wisdom on that wayward bus, and he did…

He was industrious for a committed Vagabond, my friend Godfrey, enjoying outdoor work, providing beets were not served or cultivated on the job, he always asked. Thus Godfrey was usually employed places that did not require an interview, and paid cash end of day. This odd, late summer, before heading south, he rode the #50 bus every morning, to join a crew painting a lighthouse.

“We are painting a lighthouse”, he wrote Beatrice. Out on the Fort Rodd Cape, high above the sea, I stand on scaffolding, wind up my kilt and scrape. Every morning Kevin, in same shirt and baggy shorts, (He works with us), races down the sidewalk for the #50 bus. He sleeps all the way, slack jaw agape, no matter how crowded the ride, I give him credit, Kevin sleeps through it.

There is oft loud quarreling about us on the bus one must endure, the smell of Egg breakfast, reek of stale alcohol in excess, riding the bus complaing because your life is a mess, freeloaders begging a ride at the door, in the early morning morass, see Kevin in the third row, oblivious in snore.

There was paint to be mixed, fish to buy on the docks, their were tourists Godfrey spied aground on the rocks. Kevin slept through it.

Kevin slept through the whales and seals passing, below the high lighthouse we were painting, slept till knock off time end of the day, Kevin slept the whole jolting ride from town, slept through Vinnie falling from the lighthouse all the way down. Kevin slept through free pizza on Friday, he slept while old Harry doled out our pay.

Kevin was asleep when old Harry paid him twice- he shared with the rest of us who rode that #50 bus. Kevin once asked of me,” Have you always been a poet?, Godfrey?. .”Indeed yes, I told him, since I was a boy” I have always slept, Kevin replied, a hobby that I truly enjoy”.

Kevin was asleep when the #50 bus, careened off the road suddenly, avoiding stray cattle, hitting lightly up against a tree. Builders tools, potatoes, cold coffee rained down on me, we carried Kevin out unhurt, using my kilt as a stretcher, and set him still asleep in the shade on the dirt.

Years later, Kevin wrote- “Yes, I remember Godfrey, and recall the wisdoms he taught me”. “I slept through my youth, woke on the #50 bus, wearing  lop sided name tag of a greasy hardware store, I awoke at 24. “We were painting a lighthouse, Godfrey insisting there was poetry all about , in the waft of seagull’s wings, the kelp beds at low tide, the morning sun climbing up the lighthouses side..he taught me to look beyond beets to the poetry in all of us, “For in this life we all ride a #50 bus”.

Finally awake, I took pen in hand, and oft am inspired on the path to Fort Rodd Cape, the lighthouse I never painted still stands vigil oer the strait. And warm days for memories sake, will find me napping in its shade, our names can be seen there, etched tiny in the paint, beginning now to fade, Vinny, Teresa, Godfrey, Harry, Kuldeep, Kevin…September, 1983. Although I slept through it, was Godfrey made sure they included me.

THE 57th WISDOM OF GODFREY STATES- We all ride a #50 bus called Earth, we all have a story, this Kevin taught me. “Only the sun and moon and stars can look down and choose to judge us”. For in this life we ride the same #50 bus”.

THE PERPETUAL SPRING OF MRS BENTLEY- from Worzel

Our young vagabond friend- so full of Godfrey,  Hawken, had come full circle home to Winnipeg for the summer. Saving for Ireland, his next big adventure. I had received a packet of fragile drawings, and story from his old school mate, Dr “Twinkle” Wembley- Fadge, who had read excerpts from “The Collected Wisdom”, Hawken was still too shy to share this story- still working it out …I hope he will not mind my telling.  

Yes, I went to school with Hawken, in Mrs Bentley’s 5th grade class, she made him sit front row, furthest from the door and where he could not see out a window. Kids worked on Hawken, Mrs Bentley did not intercede, he wore his fair hair long, faded flannel shirts, and Hawken oft shared with me the books he loved to read.

Mrs Bentley was an elderly, old school prairie teacher, she read us poetry, napped at her desk all morning. Every day in deepest winter, she had us draw a spring picture. She had two dresses, for spring yellow roses, the other red wool, in retrospect I wonder if she drank now and again , oft befuddled, wearing only one stocking, the only boy  who did not guffaw at teacher’s farts was quiet Hawken.

Even then, his spring pictures were vivid in color and detail, he drew the brown revolting city slush at thaw, rush of Grey-lag geese over muddy fields, he drew the post office at Crocus Hill, drew a shiny new seed drill.

Mrs Bentley never hung Hawken’s art work on display, and though she did not pick favorites, dismissed as rubbish, the little boy’s dream to live out side one day.. “Doomed to social failure”, this young nipper said she, to his parents on visiting day.

Hawken worked on his spring picture, as all about him set to bicker. Father claimed- “It’s his name- Hawken for his uncle who left home at 17. Never called or wrote those 3 years in between, whacked him with the fry pan, did my aunt Marcia Mae, when he strolled in asking, “Whats for supper?, like he had never been away”.

Ma griped- “His hair is long because of you, swung him high and bonked his head, left a long scar, and Hawken only two”.

Grandma added- “He will knock out those expensive teeth, hopping a moving train”. “He will wash his flannel shirt, in a bus depot sink and put it back on damp again”. “I will wield the fry pan, should Hawken at 16, ask for a Volkswagen Van”.

Grandpa, (whom everyone ignored), thought, “I wish I’d had a teacher, such as Mrs Bentley, all you need to learn is found in art and poetry, history, myth and maths, courage and colors, how to work, love and get along with others”. A poem memorized you have forever, and perpetual spring too, in painting or picture” . .

Hawken read, over and again “Kon-Tiki”, he understood “Thoreau”, followed the sea path of the yacht “Dove”, and “Peace Pilgrims” epic journey..draw a spring picture, no mere tulips in a vase for Hawken, much to the dismay of Mrs Bentley. She loved poetry, set us verse to memorize- “Francisco Pizzaro”, “The Flower Fed Buffalo.”

“When your poem is set to memory, she said, draw a spring picture”. Closing her eyes, head on a book of sonnets she would snooze, until the final bell rang, or someone had to ask if they could wee. “Recite the poem first”- firm in this edict was Mrs Bentley.

Then came an early spring morning, cold and dark, snow on icy tar, and Mrs Bentley slipped, alighting book laden from her old car, fell hard. It was Hawken kneeling in the slush, holding teacher’s hand, flannel shirt for a comfort where she lay, talking softly, he never said of what, until help came, and took Mrs Bentley away …

“Our substitute held a math book up, asked how far along we were, “I told her, don’t bother, while we memorize “Fort Frontenac”, put your head down and nap, we will then be quiet and draw a spring picture”.

“The janitor cleared out the desk of Mrs Bentley, young Miss Avis, across the hall watched sadly. Lesson plans she never used, some faded valentines, ancient gift of cheap perfume from student long forgotten. They found last a thick, brown envelope, marked Hawken. All the spring pictures he thought she threw away, all the multi-colored skies and ducks and tractors she would not tack to the wall. Mrs Bentley, ever the mystery kept them all.

“I was only about ten, wrote Hawken, but I understood this thing, I knew that when in peace did Mrs Bentley pass- it would be, for her, into perpetual spring”