The Ancient Mariner
You often wonder what people who sail the seven seas for years at a time think about in their quiet moments. They certainly wouldn’t be the same dreams that land lubbers have. Well, it wouldn’t really come up in your mind unless you were confronted with a situation involving it. I was, and it did.
Art Wolinski had been in the Merchant Marine for a lot of years until his retirement. I couldn’t even imagine all the places he’d been to or the things he had seen. But when met Art, he was living out his dreams. His dreams of course didn’t match those of his wife who had settled in to a life largely without her husband, of quiet living within the company of her circle of friends. How they ended up in Canada I’ll never know, but they did. I suppose it was the wide open spaces that had attracted him.
When I met Art he was already into his third year of implementing his plan. He had acquired an idyllic ten acre piece of property not far from Birds Hill Park. At age sixty-seven he had started to build his log house – himself. I say himself because his wife didn’t share his dream. He obviously hadn’t communicated it to her properly, or she just thought he was an idiot to start such a project at his age. Nevertheless he persevered. I think he never even noticed that she had left him.
I met Art one day in the fall, I think it was in early September or so. He had heard that I sold properties in the area and that I had some experience in log homes, so he wanted to meet me. Well, YES SIR! I didn’t put on any airs either in expressing my amazement in his building prowess. He had pretty well thought of everything from the foundation up.
The thing was that he didn’t want to advertise the property for sale now but rather in the spring when he returned from Mexico. He was willing to commit to a listing now though and I would have the winter to formulate my sales strategy. Well I set myself up as the agent of record and proceeded accordingly. The more I went by that place, the better I liked it.
Of course the old mariner was way ahead of me in his planning. For starters, once he had parted from his wife (or rather she had parted from him) he wasted no time in finding a little sweet heart in Mexico. In fact, he even had a little place down there. From the first of October to the end of April they would hang out there. Then, come spring, they would occupy his house in Birds Hill, living off the preserves he had stored in the cool area of the rather substantial crawl space/wine cellar.
Of course it didn’t occur to me until much later that Art had an overall plan in mind. For years he had dreamt of building his own place. The plan was well fixed in his mind before he even started. Now he’d done it and he could cross it off his list. What he wanted now was a little place in the town of Selkirk, within walking distance of the Legion. He was very specific about that (like everything else he wanted). He and his companion could spend the summers there and move quite conveniently between there and Mexico and generally enjoy life in what I suppose you could call retirement.
About the end of March I started putting out feelers to other agents about the property I had coming up for sale soon and true to the profession, I had a fight on my hands to keep the listing. Well it really wasn’t much of a fight since Art and I had an understanding. What I did have trouble with was keeping people off the property until such time as Art was back. It actually worked out well (for once) in my naïve planning. By the time I was able to show the property people were just drooling to get on it. It didn’t take long to get the job done except for the place in Selkirk I had to find. Well that didn’t take too long either. There was a place three doors down from the legion that fit the bill.
The details of everything that went on in this deal kind of escape me at this point but I think I got the general idea across. After it was all done, the whole thing kind of faded away – at least in my memory.