They were sensible men. The wilds of Missouri they chose weren't just any wilds, but a well-touristed wilds where many visitors would come and, while there, visit their shop. The river there is naturally sculptural, full of rocks carved into nooks and crannies and comfy places to sit and float, shallow enough to safely float downstream on floats. The star-watching was incredible.
The blacksmith was a tall, strong man with a lively sense of humor and a great deal of kindness to him. He took a visiting pair of sisters and helped them forge their own creations out of iron, the younger a slithery snake, the elder an elegant-if-slightly-too-short-handled ladle.
As is the way of the world, the sisters grew up and moved still further away, and the blacksmith and the potter and their capable, intelligent, and independently-interesting wives grew older, and the once-new homes they had built themselves settled in and were not so new any more, not after twenty-three years.
Age is not always kind, and one day, that icon of strength, the blacksmith, began to have problems. It wasn't just age: it was ALS. His body declined rapidly over the next few years, as is the way of ALS.
I didn't make it back to see him. It had been years since I last had, since I moved away to one university and then another, no longer accompanying my family on the drives between Arkansas and Iowa which made the wilds of Missouri a convenient stopping place. My sister did - she lived in St. Louis for a while, had a car, and went visiting. I may not have seen him for years, but that doesn't mean I don't mourn his passing.
He passed away this weekend, and he is much missed.