He was an odd young man who disliked beets, his life’s desire was for “Whirled Peas”, to avoid all manner of discord, and beets. He feared little, only moths, antique shops, closed in spaces and waxed floors..but came in time to tolerate heights, wobbly tables and owls.

Godfrey did not “Gasconade”, was never prideful , yet was cheekily confidant with his navigation skills, I happily let him lead. I misplaced Godfrey in a large grocery store one day, deduced he would be far from beets as could be, and located my friend down the pet food aisle, behind several large bags of dog food, and a stack of tins, eating a can of vanilla cake frosting…the vagabond was happiest outside, he truly was a fine navigator, venturing off track a joy.  

“I am a fine navigator”, pompossed my vagabond Godfrey. For it was summer, early morning and we were off on an adventure. I brought water, and plums and cheese with crackers, (the ones that don’t crumble with sesame seed). “Feh”, said Godfrey,” Vegemite in ones pack is heavy, we shall forage in the wild, and drink from a muddy boot print if need”. “Feh”, I thought back, muddy boot print indeed…

We drove from the city, to a raffishy back road near a derelict homestead. As directed by Godfrey, “I shall navigate from here”, he assured me. We decended a forest track narrow and green, soaked still in dew, cool in the shadows, I could hear rushing water before it came into view.

I tried not to see neath his kilt as he clambered, nimbly over wet rocks shedding knapsack and coat, Godfrey sat to wait, for me on the boulder I gracefully fell off. Sank in icy cold water up to my throat- “Mind”, he said politely, fishing me out, “it is slippery”.

Beets nasty hot, beets nasty cold, beets nasty all the time, gone to mold. Beets with gizzard meat, beets and Bulgar  Wheat, rather eat from muddy boot print nine days old..

Godfrey sang this as we tramped, a nonsense song…I must state here the truth, the awkward lad I once knew was gone, over the stones he hopped, never once getting mis- matched socks wet. “Trust  my navigation, dear Worzel, laughed Godfrey, let us see how far up this sweet river we can get”.

No poet as he was, allow me to describe our journey. Excuse my verse if too “Esoteric”. We did forage berries, the tart, thimble shaped ones where brambles grew thick. I pointed  out skeeters and odd “Jesus” beetles, dragon flies, the still pools with very light dusting of pollen. He scampered, I crawled cross a natural bridge, the trunk of an ancient cedar long fallen.

I fell off it thrice, water twice then fine river sand, it wedged in every crevice, as I followed my fine navigator, cross farmer’s fields over land. “I am a fine navigator, learned neath the stars from an old sailor Verne Lipshimmer, (something of a tippler). Twas my first long  voyage as a lad, each night looking out for The Southern Cross,  respect for the sea, I learned from Verne, a fine navigator was he..”

“And sense of direction unerring, came from being tormented with beets when young, that and the odd knitted clothes I was wearing”. “Hid I did often from beets hard tossed, even on a moving train, got off before I was far away lost, Ma slapped my head when sister Alice told her…I survived my Welsh childhood, a fine navigator”. . .

We were now on a cow path, cows zigged, calves zagged, bulls ponderous lagged behind later. Round still steaming leavings, barely looking still singing, trekked cheerily  Godfrey, my fine navigator. We had hiked a “De-Hoop”, he called it, back to our clean flowing river.

“He never failed to find his way, rarely by passed a bake shop or cafe’. We sat outside, damp and hungry, my bony behind having endured, stone, bark, and Godfrey the charmer brought out laden tray- “Never Pass Up a Bun Offered Free”- said he, my friend, a fine navigator…


What I have learned on this life’s journey? If anything I learned it best from Godfrey…Dustsceawung, he solemnly reported, when I noted it was getting deep in his, our loft spare room. “Dust, said Godfrey, was once a grand thing like the stone of a Welsh castle”. Like fine glacial silt, imagine this the dust of sod homes and cabins that the settlers built, dust ash is from wood fire twice has warmed you, it’s the fine warning wafting from the volcano…I learned from Godfrey, patience is a good thing, and much more when he took me for a weeks “Expeditioning”   

He had always found home, returning full of stories and sunburn, seashells, polished beach glass and rocks. From my tongs and good tweezers, and the help of two mirrors, Godfrey could remove thorns from his own buttocks.

“Expeditioning, as taught by Godfrey- “Wear your brown muddy boots, on the steep bits never trust your life to foliage or roots”We headed off, into the coastal fog zone, behind damp right away, sliding down the track of mud and over sandstone.

“Put on stoutest under things, beware where you sit and rest for nettle stings”. The foot of the cliff was thick with Thimble Berries, warm for us to gorge, we clambered over dunes, Godfrey said we sought an old friend, “son of son of son of the sand  spit, George.

My vagabond made fine use of his skills in the gypsy craft. For us to cross the estuary, up the big river we built us a raft. From the raincoat he never wore, (it made him perspire), elastic pulled from his drawers and an old rubber tire. It bobbled a tad as I crawled aboard, used our cooler lid as a paddle, his kilt for a sail, an old beer sign worked for a mast, it was floating past.

I paddled and smiled, and waved like the Queen Mum, as folks pointed from fast moving cars on the bridge and the highway above. A goods train rolled slow, two crew from a freight wagon tipped hats and wiped sweaty brows, we journeyed up river till turn of the tide, and camped on a grassy bend, twixt two herds of milk cows.

“Cow paths zig, said Godfrey, cows wander at will with a zag in the middle, for meditative pause, a drink or a piddle”.  “Expeditioning”- night so quiet we could hear the cow’s stomachs gurgling. Godfrey wrapped thrice round in kilt and purple blanket, dreamed in warm cocoon, I sat up late by the fire as moon cradled moon.

Morning coffee, Eggy toast, and down the coast over nasty, straddled dead tree Godfrey called “The Nancy  Log”, laughing at me. I said not a thing, we were  Expeditioning. “Beware the posh house here of very, very bad Verne Bumb”. Mr Bumb looks down  lowly on us vagabond type, I found out when I asked him once, “May I feel your plums?”. Only wanted to know if they were ripe…

“Yet Miss Cord -Green, other end will give us a cold drink, and let us wash our feet in her sink” …”the feral horses roaming here are loathed by old Verne Bumb, kids still ride horseback to school days they can catch one”.  We were seeking son of the sand spit George, and found him Mystic End, near the waterfall, on the steps of a house made of driftwood, deep in cedar shade. We found George the younger, the elder down in the city, selling the carvings he made”.

“The day we headed home, not even the #50 bus would stop, to let us inside so dusty were we”. Picked up hitching, in a van full of wet dogs was a wonderful thing…for it was joy I learned from Godfrey- “Serendipitous Expeditioning”.

When Godfrey left, it was a long time till I hiked again, solitary, bereft, eventually I’d go for a day, catch the #50 bus, out past the ferry terminus, or by car west to “Whiffen” or “Goose” spit.( “Geese do not spit, but they oft Whiffen at me” once noted Godfrey) Back then the spit was divided into an island at high tide,on the eastern tip stood a lighthouse where he camped, sheltered from the wind by it’s side. 

Red cheeked I was, from spray rime through winter’s bitterness, the tussell that is spring, indifferent late summer we called “Fog-aust”. No one worried over me, when I stayed out autumn nights below that lighthouse. I met the loners, the coast dwellers who recalled Godfrey, met The Digger, and his Wise Woman who gave me lettuce and zucchini….finally met George the Carver, son of the son of the sailor and sand spit, hauling crab trap from the sea..”.Dustsceawung”…knew one day would use his word in a story…