Michelle Bonnet Hale (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Michelle Bonnet Hale (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: We are all each other’s Island Trader

We’re entering a long phase, where we need to figure out collectively what the duration looks like.

When I was a teenager, I lived in a place called Tokeen on remote El Capitan Island off the West Coast of Prince of Wales Island. In my early years there, the early ‘70s, before the boat burned, the supply vessel Island Trader brought our mail and groceries, once a week in the summer and every other week in winter.

Like our ferry system, the Island Trader ran all of the time, night and day, stopping at logging camps and small towns and tiny fish-buying stations like ours.

Tokeen was hopping in the summer. Fishing families sold fish to us and we iced them for transfer each week to the cold storage in Craig or Petersburg. Our little grocery store and liquor store and gas dock saw a steady stream of loggers and logging families.

But in the winter, traffic trickled and sometimes stopped altogether. We’d see occasional boats going by the “Light Point” on their way to Craig or Point Baker and we’d will them to stop for a cup of coffee. Instead, they more often than not would scurry past, squeezing every last minute of daylight out of those winter days.

Sometimes, the only people outside our five-member family that we would see for a two-week stretch would be the crew members of the Island Trader. The skipper blew the horn as they rounded the point, waking us at 4 a.m., or midnight, or 2 a.m. The entire family would get up, throw on clothes and rush down to the dock to tie up and offload the boat. So eager to visit others, our conversation was a steady babble until they pulled away.

[Opinion: A wonderful debt]

The stop was always brief as they wended their way through the blackness to the next stop. We would shoulder the big green mailbags and trudge back up the boardwalk to the house, stoke the wood stove and light the Coleman lanterns, and eagerly go through every single piece of mail.

This is what we’re feeling right now. We are social beings and this pandemic and lockdown have been hard on all of us. This is why people flock to restaurants or beaches or invite friends over for outdoor barbecues.

Juneau has done an amazing job at knocking this virus back. We’re entering a long phase now where we need to figure out collectively what the duration looks like.

My hope is that we do so by bringing understanding to each other, understanding our basic human need to be social, our basic human need to protect ourselves and our loved ones. This is not about politics. It is about life and love. We are all each other’s Island Trader.

• Michelle Bonnet Hale is a member of the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly. The views expressed here are her own. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

More in Opinion

Alexander B. Dolitsky
Opinion: Looking back and forward on US-Russian relations

Relations have been short and somewhat intense.

Web
Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
I’m against House Bill 52. Here’s why

HB 52 is anti-commercial fishing, anti-community poorly thought-out bill.

5
It’s time for a federal law against LGBTQ discrimination

We have the opportunity to pass a federal law to protect 13 million LGBTQ Americans.

WH
Opinion: The buck stops at the top

Shared mistakes of Dunleavy and Biden.

This March 2020 phgoto shows Juneau’s City Hall. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: City can’t plow streets but plows ahead on $77M megaproject

It may be a terrific deal for the arts in our community, but it’s not clear that’s true for taxpayers.

(Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: It is time for the city to stop over-collecting and give our money back

Our city needs to understand that we use our own money far better than they.

1
Opinion: Energizing progress toward renewable power

We thank AEL&P for being a good neighbor in Juneau

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: It’s time for the city to stop over-collecting taxes

Lowering the amount of property tax we pay would help working families.

masks
I’m changing the pharmacy I use. Here’s why

When I use a CVS pharmacy, I not only assure that a… Continue reading

Doug Vincent-Lang is commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.( (Courtesy Photo)
Opinion: Special interest hit piece unfairly targets Southeast fisheries

I was disappointed by what I consider to be a targeted attack on Southeast Alaska salmon fisheries.

A sign designates a vote center during the recent municipal election. The center offered a spot for voters to drop off ballots or fill a ballot out in person. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The failure of mail-in voting

Juneau’s last municipal election was a failure.