Glacial Pace

I had a vision just a few days ago, call it a sort of dream. I was dead and witnessing the rapid disposal of my personal effects. Clothes would go here, other bits and pieces there. Jane would be bustling about with this, and it would all take a remarkably short time. My response as all this occurred was one of great annoyance. How quickly and simply we exit this mortal coil. Of course, I have been through this experience from the opposite end. Marlou’s stuff had to be dealt with. And oddly I can’t recall where much of it went. This only happened 10 years ago. The events are already hazy. Thus, one’s exit.

Why I was musing upon all this, and why it occasioned such great annoyance, even disgust, is unclear. And just to make the picture complete, I was having all these visions aboard the Holland America Eurodam, sailing up and down the coast of Alaska. That is to say, I was ensconced in one of the most luxurious and pampered settings humans ever experience. And this was what was on my mind. The onset of a cold may have tipped the psychic balance slightly. Can’t be ruled out. But having gotten this revelation out of the way, let’s go into the larger picture.

And there is not much larger in my limited experience than Alaska. And mind you, our cruise only took us along one small section of the southeast Alaskan coast. The mountains never stopped. One after the next, the peaks march along the shoreline. They march far inland toward the Yukon in range after range. The conventional wisdom is that even to this day large sections of Alaska have never really been properly explored. I find it heartening to consider this. I find it even more heartening in the context of my closet being cleared out postmortem. Life goes on. Not for me, but for life.

It is hard to watch the planet’s gradual destruction. And of course in geophysical terms, the word gradual is ludicrous. Rapid demise being much more accurate. This has been a summer of whales starving off the West Coast of America. As well as sea lions and all the large aquatic mammals living along the edge of the Pacific. And I find myself retreating from the news. I am such an avid news junkie that this is a startling fact. I don’t want to know.

But there is no escaping it. In Glacier Bay, Alaska, the glaciers have retreated on a vast scale. Some of this, in fact much of it, is entirely cyclical and has nothing to do with global warming. But some of it, particularly the rapid pace of glacial retreat, is down to planetary greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, human life somehow goes on in Alaska as it does everywhere. I like the coastal towns. Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan. I’m not sure I would like these places quite so much in the winter, but they are quite pleasant in the summer. They are small, these towns, even the capital of Juneau. And I am back now, my closet not cleaned out yet. There is more.

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