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  • Seth Kantner

March 21, 2020

Warm day here. Windy, and lots of fresh snow. Just back from getting stuck in deep snow in the willows with snowgo. (Tough to lift that machine--anybody gothigh heels for sale?😅) I'm drying off by the stove, eating good fat soup, and staring at my laptop, watching a leader lead. I have no idea if he's a republican or a democrat. I haven't followed that part and don't much care. It's just great to know someone is out there doing something real.

http://governor.ny.gov/…/governor-cuomo-signs-new-york-stat…

The non-real reality lately has been maybe the hardest thing to take. This last week I keep thinking of history, World War II, and how our nation re-tooled in crazy short order to make incredible hundreds of thousands of military fighter and bomber aircraft, and endless ships, landing craft, submarines, rifles, ect--so fast after Pearl Harbor to fight the threat facing our nation. And now, today--how and why in the computer age with so much technology are we somehow ringing our hands and not making simple cloth masks?, gloves? and ventilators? How is that? Where is the imagination? Where is the leadership? Where is the America I grew up in? Now I'm very worried about the villages here in Alaska. People here aren't taking this seriously. THEY ARE NOT! This is not all the easy free pretend someone-else-will-take-care-of-it that has come in our recent decades. Listen to elders. Read history. Read the numbers: the 1918 flu killed a huge number of people in northern Alaska. A crippling number of Native people. Right here in this region--same place, same land, only 100 forgotten-years back. I remember elders telling me about igloos full of dead people--they cut holes in the sod roofs, looked in at everyone dead, listened for kids crying and then pulled out a baby or toddler if still alive and had to leave the rest in there. Those elders told me about armed marshals posted along the Kobuk River and other trails, ordered to shoot anyone who tried to pass below and above Kiana going upriver or to other communities--but even that didn't help. That pandemic spread nearly everywhere. Recently I found out the 1918 flu killed both of my great grandparents. On my father's side, in Ohio. I hadn't known how they died. I had assumed that kind of death and severity only happened in places like, ahem, RIGHT HERE. Now I know that's why my grandpa grew up an orphan from age four. Why he was so quiet, serious, kind and helpful, and responsible, probably also why he volunteered to go off to the Philippines to the war. Now. lately, little like this has happened in our recent lives. We've sailed through for a bit, gotten spoiled, lazy, fat, fast and lucky. Hmmm, ironically also amazingly grumpy and weak and argumentative, and sorta addicted to FUN. What's coming likely will be different. Maybe. That's okay. It's a good time for us to recall how to value each other, and to be those things our ancestors were: strong and hardworking, especially patient and appreciative, and generous, and brave. Hearing this tonight gives me hope finally that we Americans might be those things again.

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©Seth Kantner
Alaska Wildlife Photography  |  Alaska Writer

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