Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day One Hundred Sixty Five

The northern edge of the Lost Quarter is marked by a wandering river. It has always been a border of sorts, going back to the time of the Iron and Blackfoot Confederacies, the great nations of Those Who Went Away. Before their cruel exile the river was contested territory between them.

Borders are always porous things and the borders of the Lost Quarter are no different. Always shifting and moving, impossible to define, though people always attempt to do so. A line drawn on a map, a fence or a wall constructed, an idea imposed. These things hold only so long as people choose to let them. The greater dominions and other realms, both near and far, exist only insofar as people choose to believe in them.

The Quarter itself is no different. It exists, as a place, in the minds of those who live there, those who have passed through and gone on, Those Who Went Away and Those Who Came. If it is forgotten it will dwindle away, absorbed by the greater dominions, and become a place like any other. Already many of the ways in and out of the Quarter are forgotten and lost, and time will tell what will happen to the place itself.

The river is a true border in one sense. It has always marked the edge of the great rolling plains that stretch through the Quarter and south, west and east. North is forested land and life has always been different there.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day One Hundred Sixty Two

It occurs to me that it has been some time since I wrote about the dread lord and really gave consideration to his continued presence in the Lost Quarter. That is not because his depredations have ceased or that I, or anyone really, has lowered their guard against him. It is just that those measures have become matter of fact, barely noticed, like slipping on shoes before going outside.

Of course autumn nears, as the chill that greets us each morning reminds, and with it will come schools reopening and a return to the indoors. I imagine we will all become hardier sitting upon patios and park benches as temperatures drop, but even the toughest among us will have to draw the line when the snow comes and winter with it.

What will happen then, when we can no longer wander outdoors as a distraction and a relief? Perhaps we as members of this great wintry dominion will embrace the cold as never before. We will spend time outside and find that it isn’t really so bad. Though on those days when the temperature plummets near forty below, one can hardly linger.

Secluding ourselves will only last for so long, especially in those darkest months of winter. And so we will gather and mingle indoors, perhaps not in quite the numbers we did before, but still enough that the grippe reborn will find his way among us. If things go badly we will be back to where we started, trapped in our homes, waiting to see if the dread lord can slip through our defences.

It is exhausting to think about, as everything seems to be these days. And so instead we try to enjoy these last days of summer as best we can.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day One Hundred Sixty One

Last evening, as my love and I prepared supper, the wind shifted, after what had been a bright and sunny day, and the sky was clouded with smoke. The stench of it was soon everywhere and we had to rush to close the windows. As we ate dinner we watched the clouds of smoke grow heavier and heavier, blanketing the sky with a foul miasma. Yet by the time we went to the bed the wind had shifted again and the sky was clear, the stars visible above.

The fires that produced this smoke were from two thousand kilometres away in the great empire where a raging inferno consumes the redwood forests along the Pacific coast. It is a vivid reminder, not that we need one during these strange days, that what happens far away can have tremendous impact on our lives. And what we do now will have echoes through the years, as Newton told us long ago.

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Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day One Hundred Sixty

The last few days have had a peculiar sort of monotony to them. Nothing stands out in my mind, not the things I’ve done, the television I’ve watched or the songs I’ve listened to. Even the book I am reading seems to be repeating the same incidents. I can’t recall the faces of anyone I passed by on my wanderings. Nothing drew my attention in any sort of way.

I would say I am trapped in some sort of loop except there is no sense of repetition. No déjà vu. I don’t recognize anything from day to day in the monotony. It is all new in its strange flatness.

Perhaps it is just that I am not receptive to what I encounter. I am looking without seeing, hearing without listening. Nothing registers, it just passes by and I disappear into myself.

Even my own thoughts seem tedious. I try to push beyond the usual paths my mind takes, but they seem to find the rut in the road and proceed of their own accord until I just stop paying attention.

This afternoon I think I shall take the time to sit outside and try to not let any thoughts intrude. I shall watch the birds in the trees, the clouds in the sky, and listen as the world passes by.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day One Hundred Fifty Nine

We have been enjoying the spoils of my garden these last few days as the tomatoes begin to ripen on the vine. It is undoubtedly a bumper crop, perhaps the best I have managed. The kale and chard are growing like weeds, as they do every year without fail. The herbs as well – mint, thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, basil and chives – all have flourished, more or less.

The same cannot be said of my peppers. It appears I shall have a harvest of one. Which is strange because it has been a warm year, perfect for peppers, as my profusion of tomatoes shows. The spinach was a disappointment as well, but I suspect that is because it was so cold at the beginning of the year so I was later planting than I would have liked. Once the heat of the summer hit, it quickly bolted.

There is something deeply satisfying about growing something, caring for it over the days and weeks of spring and summer, hoping the weather and the universe cooperate, so that you can realize its promise and eat of the fruits of your labour. Plucking a ripe tomato from a vine it is easy to understand why farmers might subject themselves to the seeming futility of their work. Despite the drought or the deluge, the hail and the wind, the frost in spring or autumn, and the rain or heat that never quite arrives when it is needed.

That is a song of complaint I have heard many times before. Yet, all that frustration is suddenly worth it when you look upon a field with full heads of grain turning golden under the sun. I understand that now as I didn’t always before. The satisfaction of a job well done earning a just reward as the universe so rarely allows.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day One Hundred Fifty Eight

The southern reaches of the Lost Quarter seem to never really end. There is no border, no definitive point at which one leaves or enters. This is one of the reasons the ways into the Quarter are so easily forgotten. You have to know where you are to find where you’re going.

If the south of the Quarter has a border, it is a narrow, milky river that turns south into the great empire beneath us. It was not the border for Those Who Went Away, nor for the first of Those Who Came. Both moved back and forth across the river, using it as a campsite on their way to other places. The border between the great empire and the dominions was not settled, at least not in the minds of anyone who lived there, and the vast prairies stretched on in every direction for hundreds of kilometres.

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Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day One Hundred Fifty Five

Memory is a strange thing. Everything we are living through now feels monumental. Our battle with the grippe reborn consumes the whole planet. It has fundamentally altered our way of being and many of us shall never return to our old patterns. Or so it seems now.

The last time the dread lord regained his powers and took form, a century ago, the world was just as consumed. It was even more ill-prepared than we were, having been engulfed in a terrible war, and millions died as a result. The same quarantine protocols were put in place, the same practices required. In the Lost Quarter whole towns were nearly wiped out, and yet there are no markers or memorials to those events. It is not remembered in the same way that wars and other momentous happenings are. It is a footnote.

Certainly those of us who live through it will always carry the memory with us. And if the battle with the dread lord stretches on for years with greater and greater consequences to our lives and institutions, then the scars will show for decades to come. Change is like a glacier, shifting imperceptibly, but moving all the same. You only notice it looking back over many years. The dread lord is of the greatest consequence now, but in the coming decades, for those of us fortunate enough to see it, will it seem momentous or just a part of greater changes we are undergoing without even realizing it?

The Roman Empire, like all empires, didn’t fall in a collapsing heap. It dissipated over the years, crumbling away, piece by piece, so gradually that many of those living within it would not have been aware. They would have lived the same lives their fathers and grandfathers did for the most part. Only their sons and grandsons looking back would have been able to see what had been lost and to know that it could not be regained. For they were the ones who had to live in the consequences.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day One Hundred Fifty Four

As if mocking my claims yesterday that the nights are getting cooler despite the heat, last evening refused to cool off at all. It was still 25 degrees at eleven, the air heavy and stifling. Our bedroom is, unfortunately the warmest room in the house and retreating there to bed was the last thing either of us wanted to do.

I was restless most of the night, struggling to ease into sleep and unable to stay that way for long once I did. The heat ebbed and flowed and my dreams and thoughts blended together, as I passed from sleeping to waking and back again, flitting in and out of my mind, never staying long enough to take hold.

Morning when I walked my love to work in her tower was cool, a relief after such a night. I started off sluggish and distracted, but by the time I returned home, I felt more myself. Now I sit at my correspondences, dutiful as always, sipping another cup of coffee trying to ignore the edge of exhaustion that surrounds me.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day One Hundred Fifty Three

The heat has returned after a week of pleasant weather. It seems it will be here for a few days more at least, refusing to loosen its hold upon us.

Yesterday my love and I ventured out late in the afternoon, when the warmth was still at its peak, and exercised for a time. I was soon dripping with sweat, the air around me seeming to hold me tight in a scorching embrace.

The nights at least provide a little respite, and the first hints of the coming autumn, for it cools down considerably, more than it did even a few weeks ago. The sun sets sooner and rises later. Soon we will be complaining of the cold, rain and snow and wishing for sultry August temperatures.

When it is this warm I feel more lethargic than sultry, and damp, but not in an attractive way. It is more difficult to bear now that I am stranded at home because of the grippe reborn. My office had air conditioning, while my home does not, so I have no way to escape the growing tide of warmth that arrives each morning. Before we might have gone to a movie theatre, to watch whatever, just to pass a few hours in the chill of a mall. Now I put damp wash clothes in the freezer and press them to my face until the chill has been wrung from them.

Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day One Hundred Fifty Two

A sluggish return to correspondences after a week of wandering the countryside. It is always hard to return to work after time away and it has only become more so in this year of the dread lord. A fog covers my thoughts and refuses to lift. I am distracted, irritable, wanting something, but unsure what it might be.

My love and I returned home from our journey, exhausted by all we had done, and spent the last few days at nothing, dreading returning to work. All ambition had leached from us. The grand plans we had talked about for our return home were forgotten and we spent our days at home, aimless and restless, yet unwilling to do much of anything.

I tell myself it is just that we needed time to recover from our trip. Journeys are always exhausting, no matter how enjoyable they may be, and that is especially so under the shadow of the grippe reborn, where even the simplest and most pleasurable of activities are haunted by unease. Or perhaps it was that we were unconsciously gathering strength for our return to our daily drudgeries.

In truth these are all just symptoms of our exhaustion with this neverending present, with the grippe reborn and all the attendant concerns that never quite leave our minds, even when they seem absent from our thoughts. And we are the lucky ones in truth, we can’t forget that, both employed, both healthy. For the moment at least. What the next moment brings we shall see.

We are tired of this. Tired of having to think about it constantly, to always be aware. Tired of not being able to think more than a week or two into the future. Tired of the worry about what is to come and what isn’t. Just tired, and wishing somehow that there could be some sort of end to this all.