Howard Delo

This whole coronavirus pandemic thing is getting more serious for us Alaskans. I saw on the news the other day that Alaska has gone from a single confirmed case to nine, and things will just continue to get worse. That’s not unexpected, but it will require some adjustment to a so-called “new normal.”

I’ve received emails confirming that both the Mat-Su Sportsmen’s Show and the Great Alaska Sportsmen’s Show have either been cancelled or postponed, hopefully minimizing the potential spread of the virus. The Hunter Information and Training Program of ADF&G usually has a booth at both shows where their laser shooting equipment is used to demonstrate safe gun handling and kill zones on various species of big game. They also provide information on the hunter education program.

The kids really enjoy this activity and some adults have even been known to break a smile when they shoot the laser sequence. I have volunteered for several years to help at this booth for both shows, primarily to explain the Hunter Education Program and the courses offered. Once folks hear about the program and the legal requirements for hunting in Alaska, they usually inquire about how to get their kids and themselves signed up for the course(s) they need to apply for hunting permits or to access specific areas requiring HE certifications in order to hunt.

Frequent hand washing shouldn’t be anything new, but this “social distancing” thing is something else some folks need to adapt to. A six-foot distance is a little longer than I usually do, but “keeping my distance” isn’t anything new for me. “Self-isolating” is also something both my wife and I have been doing for quite some time without knowing it. Some folks might say we’re anti-social, but that’s not true. My wife grew up in a remote area and I lived and worked remotely for Fish and Game for nearly fifteen years, so we’re both used to being by ourselves.

We never entertain at home. In fact, the last time anybody even stopped by the house was over two weeks ago when I received a Fed Ex delivery. With our remote living experience, we both are used to keeping a large, well-stocked pantry. Since we’re both seniors, we’ve been taking advantage of the senior discounts to restock and improve the variety of foods we have.

While we’re not “preppers” in the strict sense of the definition, we have a lot of similarities to that lifestyle. Like most Alaskans who like to hunt and fish, we have the gear to camp out and survive outside the home shelter. I’ve made a point of having a good selection of freeze-dried “emergency” foods with long shelf lives in the pantry. I also maintain a few cases of military-style MRE’s. My original interest here was in case of a natural disaster event, but it also serves for this “social” disaster, if needed, as well.

We try to be reasonably self-sufficient around the house, but, like most people, I need to occasionally call in outside help in the form of repair technicians or snowplow trucks if the snow is deeper than I can handle with our snowblower. I’m older and my physical abilities are declining regarding heavy or hard physical work. I’m learning to think through how to do things as opposed to “muscling” my way through a project. Things take longer, but I eventually get them done.

We’re both seniors and I have some background health issues, so we must be careful in this pandemic situation. Don’t be offended if either of us takes a step or two back if we meet someplace and a conversation begins. I’ve always been a handshaker, but a verbal comment with no contact at all will have to become the new greeting.

If you’re used to seeing us someplace, chances are you won’t for the foreseeable future. We have a good supply of books, some DVDs, and satellite television. We have the internet and email capabilities. We also have both landline and cell phone service. If you need to check in, call or email (I’m usually better at answering emails than the phone). I’ll plan on doing the same.

The Frontiersman editorial staff is used to never seeing me. I’ve been the “phantom” columnist ever since I started writing this column, so nothing new there. I’m the more social one in our household, so I will need to make the most adjustment, but life goes on and we will all get through this together.

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