I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

“No matter what it is, if you don’t move your eyes and set the pace yourself, your intellect is sentenced to death. The mind, you see, is like a muscle. For it to remain agile and strong, it must work. Television rules that out.” ― Mark Helprin (Winter’s Tale)

Being sick, I was on the iPad and phone a lot. Too much. It’s not good when Chip asks me, “What are you are looking at?” Or when I’m tapping the screen,  “Who are you talking to?” Never mind that he’s watching one live game and one recorded, and shouting over Michigan or the Huskies.

When I was growing up my mother considered television to be the gateway to heroin. She read Neil Postman in the New York Times, and later sent me his book on TV, Amusing Ourselves to Death. I don’t know if it was before or after that she began calling the TV set” the plug in drug.”  She was a teacher, but didn’t approve of Sesame Street because she said it was still TV, and noted that there was always something educational to watch but the action itself was mind-numbing.

That’s why today, after all the football games yesterday, and a week of watching shows on the iPad about  Indian matchmaking, Blue Zones, Christmas in Norway– when Chip asked if I wanted to walk in the woods I said of course. (My to-do list could wait.) I don’t know how we got on the subject, maybe because we were somewhere without cell service, we talked about phones. My  small-town Pennsylvania grandmother had a party line, his childhood home in rural Massachusetts had one. We both had rotary phones. There was a switchboard at my high school and a pay phone down the hall in my college dorm. I made collect calls home with a dime.  I still know my childhood phone number, and it begins “Oriole six” as in OR 6. I can’t even tell you my children’s numbers because they are in the phone in my pocket. I tap their name and it goes through, with a video if I choose. We FaceTime with grand kids in Australia.

Which all got me thinking that the old-fashioned TV looks pretty good these days, since at least when it is on everyone looks at the same screen and can talk about what we see.

I wonder what my mother would say about that? I know she’d love this story,  in spite of herself:

When I got home there was an email from a Haines friend who I don’t see all that often. I didn’t even know he was in Morocco on a 2 month cycling trip. He said he was on his way to a place called Essaouria on the Atlantic coast and stopped in a tiny coffee shop for NusNus ( a drink he says is half coffee and half milk). He sipped and looked up at a TV, “And who should I see but Stojanka.” Our daughter. She was on Dr. Oakley’s show with her dog Wyatt. (The Yukon veterinarian lives in Haines has a reality show.) “It was of course dubbed in Arabic, but it was still quite a surprise to see her in this little village somewhere in the middle of Morocco. Hi to everyone, and Happy New Year!”

Happy New Year, indeed.