The sky is an inky blue-black and the stars seem fringed with purple light. The air is icy until you get close to the kiln, where the smell of superheated rubber, stone and wax forms a strange cocktail of scent. I’m winding the centrifuge and my father is cutting pieces of gold with a pair of heavy handled shears.
Later, when the gold is removed from the kiln Dad lights the oxyacetylene torch and the whump and sharp odour are lost in the quick confusion of hurried work, performed almost in silence. The gold heated to a pure white sphere poured into the mould that is released in its centrifuge, then dunked hissing into a deep bucket of salt water. And a ring is pried out, dull and still hot, barely a shadow of its future gleaming beauty.
We took wax and fire, dull metal and gravity, and made a beautiful object from things taken from the earth. The apprentice too is taken through a similar process – becoming something more than they started, hopefully in time, even more than their master. This is the miracle of successive futures, of the hope every parent has, that their child will live a happier and better life than they did. This can be the construction of meaning in our lives, to become the apprentice and then when the master leaves, to take on the mantle of the teacher ourselves.