My friend was answering his phone “path of totality” this week, and it made me laugh– as the lingo of the eclipse, like so many things, has other meanings in the wider world. Totality: wholeness, fullness, completeness, sum total, all, everything, the whole ball of wax.
Which reminds me of my neighbor Betty, who is home after her hip break and repair, and so I’ve been checking in with her regularly, and she always asks me the same thing, “So what’s going on in the world?” by which she means Haines, since her TV has placed her living room in the path of totality when it comes to national news. I tell her about the big bear tracks on the beach, and the puppy Trixie’s training (she has discovered my favorite shoes and drags them outside in the rain, or up on the couch), and the borough assembly news– the whole flurry of very last minute filings for the Oct. 3 election– Sean Maidy and Stephanie Scott have decided to run, which is such good news as they stepped up and helped us when things were rather bleak, and filled in vacated seats, and then Diana Lapham, Michael Fullerton, Brenda Jones, and Andrew Gray all filed too– so there is a real race since three seats are open and the top three vote getters will take them. Plus, there is a contest for mayor. Current mayor Jan Hill is being challenged by Main Street gallery owner and newcomer to politics, Joanie Wagner.
After I tell Betty all that, we talk about the fuss made over the eclipse, which was only 53 % total here, and it was raining and foggy. I walked on the beach with the dogs during it, but to be honest, didn’t really notice any more or less darkness than usual. On the TV, the commentators talked about how for one day, Americans joined together realizing that we are part of something greater, and that for once, nature batted first– one likened the eclipse to a grand slam home run–
And I thought, you know, in Alaska we understand this in our bones. I mean, I can hear glaciers caving in the mist, feel the rush of the moon tides scouring the beach, the salmon run, the bears wrestle, the wind blows — the weather means we are in the path of totality every time we try to come and go. ( Will the planes fly? Will the ferry run?) And what’s more, everything is changing so fast we can all feel it and see it.
My second grade granddaughter came home from the first day of school (it started this week) and said that she learned the planet is warming and the polar bears are dying because there’s no ice. Her father is a biologist, and noted that many of the same people who question climate change had no problem believing- even praising– the scientists who predicted the eclipse.
This place (and my family in it) is my everything. What makes me whole and complete. Maybe Alaskans should all start answering our phones “path of totality.” Maybe that will get someone’s attention.