Is Anybody Home?
Mineral Point, Wisconsin
It was well past seven p.m. Most galleries and shops were closed, but this one had the lights on, with the door wide open. I walked into the shop and, with the exception of a very old German Shepherd, it seemed to be unoccupied.
"Hello? Is anyone home?"
"Yes, I'm here..." came a voice from behind me.
I turned around and still didn't see anyone.
"I'm down here, I've fallen."
"Can I help you?" There was an older woman in the corner sitting on the floor, wedged between a stairway and a wheelchair.
"No, I can do this. It happens all the time. I'll be with you in a minute."
"You're quite sure you don't need some help?"
"No, no, I'm alright." She was fiddling with the wheelchair, moving it into position, then locking the wheels. I tried to be nonchalant; it was clear that her resolve was firm. I walked around the shop. She began to ask me the usual questions- "Why did you come to Mineral Point? Where are you from?" I answered, and we began a conversation, her on the floor, I turned around so as not to embarrass her. After a few minutes, she rolled up in her wheelchair, evidently none the worse for wear. I asked about the enormous looms (a Glimakra and a Weavers Delight) which sat in the back of the shop, yes, she was the weaver- although from the looks of them (and the general disarray) it had been a while since they had been in use. She spoke of the shop, of her ex-husband who had once been part of it (his wood-working sign was still hanging in the back) and about books. Of course, Halldór Laxness came up; I should keep one of my spare copies of Independent People in my car. We talked for a while, but I had to get back to the cabin, I suspect she was on her way upstairs when she had fallen.
And so I left her, promising to return tomorrow, I asked again if I could do anything, but she said that she was fine. I did return the next day, the door was open, I went back in, but there was nobody there, not even the dog...