Ax grinding was a necessity 70 years ago. A well sharpened tool made work more satisfying. Skill in ax honing was an art. The man or woman at the grinder peddled foot pumps to turn the grindstone. Notice the grinder’s posture as he leans against the tree and holds the blade at a certain angle. He looks fully focused on the task, perhaps in mindful meditation as he listens to the steel and grindstone in harmony with the motion he creates using his body.
When I feel nostalgia* for times gone by, like this sort of work that was part of rural life before I was born, I wonder if people really felt satisfaction from such tasks. Certainly life moved at a slower pace for most before all our modern conveniences, but was it any more pleasant or annoying than our lives today?
*Nostalgia: a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition. (Mirriam-Webster Dictionary)
By the way, that’s my Great Grandfather Barlow grinding the ax in this image from family archives. He was known for this skill and for growing bountiful vegetable gardens. And this image is my response to this week’s photo challenge: nostalgia.
For a beautiful photograph of a blade sharpener in a different culture click here. The photo tells a story.