Yikes! It’s October. That seems to be the reaction of everyone this weekend, like it doesn’t come every year about this time. I think it is because the summer was such a tentative thing. After a year of being sequestered, we dipped our toes into June like we were testing the water in the newly ice-free creek, then stretched and flapped our wings in July, like new hatchlings. It was August before we really had a handle on seeing our friends in public without masks, and visiting the store at any time that was convenient. And then the September let down with more news of the unrelenting virus and possibly a winter very similar to the one we left behind in 2020.
But then comes October. The Alaska Legislature is still in Juneau — or in Juneau again — as they have been virtually all year. So much for the 90-day sessions. But we will get the PFD, which seemed to be in doubt for a few days — but not really. No self-respecting politician would dare leave the capitol if he left the PFD sitting on the table.
Berry picking and other harvests are winding down. Apparently it has been a great year for all berries. Raspberries were becoming like the fabled zucchinis, as everyone was giving them away if you’d just pick them! And cranberries were so thick the pickers just sat in one spot and filled their buckets. And the fall crocuses are in bloom.
We vote on Tuesday. Some borough assembly seats, local city councils and the school board are on the docket. The borough sent out the voters’ pamphlet to introduce the candidates and explain the procedures for voting this time. The Clarion has run its usual series of candidates’ introductions; KDLL and KSRM generally and Sound Off and Bird’s Eye View in particular have all presented various candidates for listeners’ questions and comments. We should be well educated as concerns this municipal election, so no reason not to cast a ballot. But I expect we’ll see about a 12% turnout, if that good.
Local elections are the venue where our votes really count; the election where we, the people, can expect to be heard; the elections that are the most important to our every day lives. But still, no one turns out to make a difference. Then we hear about it for the next two years in editorials, on Sound Off, and just general grousing about the street didn’t get plowed, the dip-netters hog the beach, the sales tax is too high, not fair, or should be eliminated, by those people who were too busy to stop at the polling place on Oct. 5 and cast a ballot for someone who thinks like they do and might make a difference.
But that’s not all there is to October. The days are shorter. We are losing nearly six minutes a day. It’s getting colder; probably have snow that sticks by the end of the month and I saw eggnog in the store the other day. But best of all, Halloween! Other years would have seen a pumpkin giveaway for the kids, and the Pumpkin Festival on the rugby field by the Senior Center this next weekend. No word yet, at this writing, but stay tuned!
When I was a kid, Halloween wasn’t as big a deal as it has become today. We would make a ghost or a witch picture at school, and the teacher might read “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” or show the movie. At home we’d make a jack-o’-lantern, but we lived in the country so never had any trick-or-treaters come to the house, and very seldom did we go around for the sweets we might collect. I’m not sure when Halloween became the big deal it is now. It has essentially become the beginning of the “holiday season.” If you count the buildup we have added six weeks to the end-of the-year celebrations.
A few other countries, mainly Latin ones, celebrate “Allhallows Eve” as the buildup to All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1. (It is celebrated as “Day of the Dead” in Mexico as a day to honor deceased relatives.) But our celebration in the U.S. is pretty much secular. We are all about ghosts and vampires, witches and goblins. Lots of jack-o’-lanterns. But that is for next column!
This week, enjoy what good weather remains and remember to go vote on Tuesday.