Early morning, standing on the beach getting ready for the day. Off in the distance, the island we would be travelling to that morn. It was so quiet, just the gentle lap of wave on sand, the occasional hushed squawk of a sea gull. Hard to put into words, but it was a cleansing.
The t-k asked if we could build a sand castle. Of course we could, and so we did. For a few minutes. The adventure was waiting. We would come back later and time seemed to slow that, for awhile at least, we could do anything for however long we wanted. The sun stopped in the morning.
But off we went and took the big boat ride to Mackinac Island. We did a lot that day, some of which I already have posted about, but it was too much for just one post. So here comes another. Remember, time was elastic and stretched forever at that point.
After the fort, and as part of our tickets, we could go through the historical buildings through the town. We saw some cool places, learned a lot more about the history of the island, but one thing really stood out in my mind. One of the places was a blacksmith shop.
When I was a wee lad, the farm had a blacksmith shop. They had to have one. After all, who else would make and repair tools? Shod horses? Of course, that was thiry five years ago and it was falling down and rarely used anymore. I was supposed to stay out of the building, it was unsafe. Well to a ten year old, it was a treasure trove. I went anyways.
Since then, blacksmith shops have fascinated me, and so did the one on the island. We stood and watched the smith working a piece of iron rod over the coals as he did a brief history of the place and described some of the tools and what not they discovered in the dig. But I really did not listen, I watched him working the bellows.
As he talked, he would heat up the iron and then bend it over the anvil. Heat up to red hot, bend and hammer. Back and forth. Slowly, the metal started to circle around and 'round. As the circle grew he talked and asnwered questions, engaging both kids and adults alike. I was watching a craftsman at work, not noticing the heat wafting off the bellows, entranced by the sound of hammer and anvil.
Then one more push on the bellows, the heating of the end to orange red, then a twist, a deft strike of the hammer, and then he walked to the barrel and dipped it in. He kept talking right along, the crowd mesmerized by sight and sound, and the smell of worked metal.
As he was brushing the cooling metal he asked if there was anymore questions. He washed his work and rubbed it down as we all stood there, waiting to see the final product. It was a candle holder.
Amazing. Gammie is candle crazy. I mean that in a good way. So she piped up and asked how she could buy one. The blacksmith said oh sure, we sell em would you like this one? Of course she did! My wife asked for one as well. He had one finished earlier sitting there, grabbed both, stuck a price tag on the bottom of 8 bucks and said you can take it to the visitors center, other side of town and pay for em there. They were excited, and me and the tyke loved watching him work. Good time all around.
So back up for a minute. Read that last part, the part about giving the candle holders to us to go pay for them on the other side of town at the visitors center. See that? No anti theft devices, no security guard or undercover cops. No beeping electronic wall to past through. No cameras. Just a simple pay for em over there and a smile and a heartfelt thank you. A 'I am glad you enjoyed the presentation and enjoy your time on the island' farewell.
Different times, different values. At that point, if you did not think you travelled back in time, you were clueless. Too bad, because I noticed that right away. We left the shop and made a beeline for the visitors center and gladly paid for our treasures. No one else bought anything and the other folks wandered off.
But I know, deep down, they were affected as well. You could see the thoughtful expression on their faces. For a moment, I think everyone was transported back to a time of honor and craftsmanship. A time when your word was sacred. That blacksmith, never did get his name, made magic. If you are scratching your head and thinking I am out of my mind, I challenge you to go there next summer and see for yourself.
There is wonder to be found everywhere. You have to tune yourself into it. Words are hard to come by when describing that kind of experience. It is one of those things where you really do have to be there to understand. But not just there, anywhere. It is there. Believe it.
At the end of the day, we looked from the island back to our sand castle beach. If you look hard enough you can see the castle there. We travelled back to that sandy cove after a lifetime day in the past.
This is why I wander.