ART HANSMANN: 87 YEARS OF LIFE LIVED SMALL

Several of my posts lately have been short because of family health issues.  One of those issues concluded last Saturday when my father-in-law succumbed to a long, wasting disease.  This man was part of my life for 33 years.

He was a hard man for me to like – politically right-wing,  and uninterested in the natural world or environmental concerns.  I struggled to find common ground between us.  Though we stood on opposite sides of this chasm, we both found ways to support and love each other.

It’s taken something my daughter posted this week on her blog, DWELLING PLACES to make me realize that Art was walking the green walk much more than I ever gave him credit for.

Art, Dorothy, Suzanne, Doug in the scooter, and Alice on the way

When he moved to Racine with his young family and set up the first patent office in Southeast Wisconsin, he bought a modest, three-bedroom ranch house.  As a reasonably successful attorney, he could easily have traded up several times in his life and ended his days in some over-large McMansion.

But he chose not to.

He was comfortable and content with what is now a well-below-average sized house, filled with the very same 50s furniture that he and his wife purchased when they moved in.

He was reducing, reusing and recycling long before those concepts became buzz words, and often refurbishing junk his neighbors had left at the curb.  For years his TV stand was a swivel rack, salvaged from a discarded fridge and spray painted red-orange to match the shag carpet that my mother-in-law Dorothy called Bittersweet.

He maintained a voluntarily small footprint.  His house and its furnishings are modest but very adequate, and even so, more than most people in the world have.

Art didn’t crave grandeur or excess.  He had the common sense to know when he had enough to be happy.  His choices were fundamentally sustainable without ever considering the concept.

A simple house that served for 50 years.

If more of us felt that way, how different the world might be.

Rest in peace, Art.

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