Being fifty-something, I love stumbling unexpectedly on a snapshot of the past.
On a recent weekend getaway to the country, we found a time capsule dating back to the mid nineteenth century.
Our digs at Rock Brook featured an amazing open fire and our generous hosts let us know that there was a ready supply of kindling and chopped wood in “the smithy”, pointing to a weatherboard-clad shed not far from our little cottage.
Just before dinner on our first night, we decided to pay “the smithy” a visit and stock up our fuel supplies before nightfall.
When we prised open the oversized creaking door we found much more than a woodpile. “The smithy” was obviously the original blacksmith’s shed, where all sorts of metal farm equipment was forged and repaired.
There were spiderwebs clinging to most surfaces and rogue weeds growing up from the earthen floor. But we saw past that to the almost untouched time capsule of farm life that “the smithy” harboured.
A giant leather-dressed bellows in the corner would once have blown oxygen-rich air from outside the shed directly onto the blacksmith’s fire, breathing life into the roaring flames. A heavy anvil remained atop a tree-stump stand where it had withstood thousands of powerful hammerings as the blacksmith plied his craft.
The shed’s framework of rough-hewn timber also remained intact … an original skeleton, hand-crafted and, in more recent times, re-clad in machined weatherboards.
The walls were embellished with farm tools, rusting rabbit traps, lettering stencils and, of course, the tools of trade of the “smithy”.
If only these walls could talk. We‘d know more of the hardships of pioneering farmers living in tiny remote communities in the 1850s. We’d understand more about “making do” with what you could fashion from materials on hand (rather than what you could pick up during a quick trip to Bunnings). We’d know of the pain of a loved one drowning in the flooded creek and of disease robbing families of whole generations in one fell swoop.
I know some collectors who would trade their right arms(just one each) for access to an authentic slice of colonial life captured in a untouched state like this.
I’m so glad that our hosts at Rock Brook have a healthy respect for their heritage and are likely to keep “the smithy” and its secrets of the past intact for others like us to stumble upon.