Labor Day weekend, Woki and I met a very interesting person, Wendy Witchner. She, unlike Mariah, is absolutely non-fictional.
Wendy is a jeweler who was among the 200-plus artists exhibiting with the Deer Path Art League's Fair on the Square, and her unique and lovely work drew me and many others to her booth. As I perused the necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that she had crafted from silver, beads, and antique buttons, I listened while she chatted with her customers. She told us that she made her first jewelry at age twelve, that her mother had been a scuba diver on the West Coast back when that was an outrageous job for a woman, and that she herself had been a flight instructor in Alaska. Now, she lives with her dog, Allie, in a 26-foot motor home and travels from art show to art show all year long.
For the rest of the afternoon, I found myself thinking about the romance and difficulties of such a lifestyle. There is certainly a beguiling allure to being so self-contained: one's home and business always at hand, the comfortable companionship of a faithful dog at one's side, the ability to pick up and leave--or stay--in one spot on any whim of the soul or the weather.
I bet there could be a pretty cool "Adventures of Wendy in Wonderland" blog. Perhaps it could even be spun into a fictional series: each episode, Wendy pulls into a new town where she discovers trouble (someone else's), solves the problem (cleverly), and drives off into the sunset.
Ah, but there I go trying to take her to Fictionland. Wendy is a real person, working hard to make a living in the real world. While the notion of being free and unencumbered enough to have one's entire life contained in 26 portable feet is the stuff of fantasies, in reality it could also be the stuff of nightmares. What happens if the "car" breaks down or has a flat tire? What about bad storms? Wendy spends a lot of time in Florida where tornadoes treat RVs much as sharks treat tender swimmers. And financial security in the sunshine artists' community is oxymoronic.
Hers is a lifestyle that requires more courage than I could muster, even in my wildest dreams, but I really admire her spirit.
I went back to her booth and bought a bracelet of silver beads and snowflake obsidian. Wendy is many miles down the road by now, but the bracelet will be a reminder of the value of independence, and perhaps somewhere down my own road, one of my characters will find herself living in a 26-foot motor home.
Please visit the real Wendy at www.wendywitchner-jewelry.com