Tuesday, 06 April 2010
The Blacksmith’s Wife
By Linda Chaput.
“You want to be a what?” I asked my husband.
“A blacksmith,” he replied, his expression strong and convincing.
I knew he meant it, and I needed to sit down from the shock. He had just returned from a week-long blacksmithing workshop with a master blacksmith/sculptor in Carmel Valley, California.
This was not a class to become a farrier, a person that shoes horses, but a workshop for artistic blacksmiths and sculptors. And that’s who he wanted to be – an artist in metal. He was fascinated when he took a piece of steel, put it in the fire and changed the shape into something of his creation.
I was five month’s pregnant with our first child and had just quit my job as a secretary in Menlo Park. He was going to junior college on the G.I. Bill. All I could think to say was, “Well, how are we going to make it financially?” There was no answer, but I knew he would find a way.
It was April 1975, and we were living in a tiny one-room cabin as caretakers high in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It was a cozy home with no electricity, an outhouse down the hill and a beautiful view of Monterey Bay. We loved our lifestyle but decided to buy a parcel of 27 acres down the road to build a new cabin.
After our daughter was born, the cabin was finished and we moved in. It was a small but delightful cabin and nestled comfortably into the hillside. I imagined our lives on that land would be happy and simple forever.
My husband’s thoughts were still on blacksmithing, so it came as no surprise when one day he decided to build a small blacksmith shop next to our cabin. He began accumulating blacksmithing tools and books and studied them frequently.
I knew his interest was growing. He spent hours in his shop pounding and shaping the hot metal into various simple items such as scrolls, hooks, nails and barbecue forks, and became excited when something turned out right. Often I could smell the coals burning in the forge and hear his rhythmic hammering on the anvil. His blacksmithing skills were improving.
In February 1979, our son was born. My husband had a secure welding job in San Jose and I soon went back to work part-time as a secretary in Cupertino. But in September, he got the phone call that would change our lives forever. A blacksmith trainee was needed to forge plows and repair agricultural equipment in the small town of Meridian, a farming town near Marysville. If he took the offer, we would both need to quit our jobs and move from our cabin in the mountains to a town several hours away.
I was hesitant at first, for I didn’t want to leave my home and face an uncertain future in a new place. But after talking it over for a few days, we decided it was an opportunity that we could not pass up. It would begin to fulfill his dreams of being a blacksmith. We could also rent out our cabin in case this new job didn’t work out and we wanted to return.
So it wasn’t long before we found some renters and packed our things.
On the day of the move, however, as we drove up the hill to the iron driveway gate at the highway, it suddenly occurred to me that I was leaving my home, possibly forever. As my husband opened the gate for us to pass through, I sat in the truck with watery eyes, trying to stay focused on the journey that would take us away from our mountain home to a rented house in California’s farmlands.
He saw my tears. “Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked gently. “You know, we don’t have to.”
I knew he meant it, that he would turn us around at that moment, take us back down to the cabin, unpack, and cancel the job.
I just looked at him, nodded my head, and quietly said, “Yes, I’m sure. Let’s go.”
As he closed the gate behind us and got in the truck to leave, I couldn’t look back. I knew this new venture would be the beginning of his dream to be a real blacksmith and I supported his decision. But it was then that I realized I was also in his dream, for I was slowly becoming a blacksmith’s wife.
[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]