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 Eighty Six

The sun has returned, the haze dissipating from the sky, though a film of it still remains high above, granting everything a sepia glow.

The changing of seasons is more and more evident. With each passing week the sun rises later and sets earlier. My love and I walk to work in the gloaming dawn now. A few short weeks ago the sun was already above the horizon by the time we set out. I now have to close my blinds in the mid-afternoon to keep the sun from my eyes.

As I walked home this morning through the shadows of dawn, a fat crow flew by my head, settling upon a fence ahead of me. There it stayed, ducking its head and fluffing its wings until I passed. As I walked by it went still, staring at me eye to eye from the fence. There was no fear in that gaze, no curiosity either. Just something hard and hungry, issuing a challenge or a warning. Of what I don’t know.

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 Eighty Three

It was not the last time the grippe came to these parts that the grippe king ruled for a time in the Quarter. He was from Denmark some said, or Scandinavia. His name, presuming he had one, has been lost to us, and only the moniker he was gifted with survives.

He was no king, though he ruled for a time in certain places. His was haphazard territory, gathering people to him on street corners and in parks. While others cowered from the dread lord, secluding themselves or fleeing cities and taking his pestilence with them, the grippe king declared that he had nothing to fear and neither did his followers. He had journeyed far and wide, through the greater dominions and Quarter itself and the dread lord had been unable to lay a hand upon him.

It was not just that he had avoided the grippe’s terrible hand, he told all who would listen, the dread lord could not touch him. Even if the king stood before that awful spectre he would not bow or quaver. To prove his claim he would embrace someone who suffered from the grippe’s malady, holding them tight. Releasing them, he would hold up his hands before his followers, lifting his head up so that his long hair fell back from his forehead.

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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 Eighty Two

Another day with no sunrise, the sky an endless grey haze, dark now, but growing lighter. Walking outside the grit gathers in the corners of your eyes, so that by the time you return home you need to wash your face. Oddly there is no smell of smoke despite its evidence everywhere.

It is like having a ceiling above you everywhere this sky, one that feels lower and lower every time you glance up. The towers in downtown threaten to pierce this ceiling. You almost fear what would happen if the did.

Some years ago now I lived in the far western dominions in a great city upon the Pacific sea. There the winters were cruel, not because of the cold, but because the clouds would descend as soon as November came, if not sooner, and not let up until March or later. The rain that came with it would last for days, sometimes despairing weeks. Storm after drenching storm would come, broken only by an hour or two when the rain would cease, but clouds would remain.

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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 Eighty One

We awaken to a hazy morning, smoke from distant southern fires reaching us again. The past weeks have been filled with images of smoke-filled Pacific skies in a land of sun. The smoke casts everything in an unreal, alien light, one I am very familiar with after our summers of forest fires. It gives the days an apocalyptic feel, that goes well with these apocalyptic times.

Of course many people declare that it is too simple to say that these fires are the result of our climate apocalypse. The drought that ravaged those Pacific regions these last years would have happened regardless of human activity, though our actions undoubtedly worsened it. And our fire management practices have exacerbated conditions in forests, trying to stop all fires and leaving a tinderbox that can only ignite an inferno, instead of allowing regular fires to burn in a way that can be better contained.

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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 Eighty

It took some time for me to notice the blood. I walked half a block or more before it occurred to me to look closer at the dark blotches on the sidewalk. When I  first glanced at them I assumed they were the remains of chokecherries fallen from the bushes that lined the street.

Now, looking closer, I can see that the colour is all wrong for chokecherries. It is dull, faded red, tinged with the grey of the concrete, not a bruised and crushed purple. In some places it is darker, where a heavier drop fell. In others there are a series of spots close together, as if whoever was bleeding had paused for a moment. What for?

I follow the trail of the blood, as though it will provide an answer. It goes to the end of the block and then turns right. On my way home in fact. Up another half a block where it ceases in a large pool. The sidewalk is dark with it, darker than it is anywhere else. I look down on it with a twinge of fear that doesn’t override my fascination.

This was where it began, I decide. Some battle had ensued, or someone had chosen this spot – a sidewalk alongside a parking lot – to strike. The wound had bled badly, but the person had stayed there, hardly moving, for there are no spatters of blood beyond the stained circle on the concrete. Perhaps they had taken the time to staunch the bleeding, for the trail that flows from the pool is irregular, a blotch here, a blotch there.

I retrace my earlier path, turning left at the corner. The trail goes to the end of the block, far past where I first noticed it. There it ends, no stains on the sidewalk going left, no drops on the pavement in any direction, nor any on the three other corners standing opposite this one. Whoever it was, they came here and no further.

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 Seventy Nine

Everyday it becomes more and more evident how long we will be faced with the grippe reborn’s malicious powers. Even after we have developed an effective defence against the dark lord’s predations, it will be many months to raise up those edifices across the world. Some places and peoples will be lucky and will do so quickly, others will be less fortunate and so the quarantine protocols and anguish will linger on for months.

So long as the dread lord has a foothold anywhere in the world, he is everywhere. The impact will be felt by all regardless of where we are. This is especially so because our first defences will, of necessity, be less than complete. There will be breaches in our walls that will have to be sandbagged and rebuilt. It is the work of years, not months.

I have been thinking little of the grippe reborn lately, not that his presence has diminished any in these parts. In fact, the numbers have been steady and rising in some cases. Children have returned to school, bringing an anguished relief to parents, who desperately want a return to some normalcy for them, but fear not enough has been done to thwart the dread lord. We shall find out in a few weeks what cost we will bear.

My own worry has diminished to a low ebb of late. Mostly this is because I have been preoccupied with my correspondences and have had little time for other considerations. As well, I have made a conscious decision to enjoy these last days of summer and the coming of fall. Winter, I fear, will be a grim and chilling time of isolation, one that I would rather not dwell on.

It is happier to consider each day as its own, with its own peculiar delights and horrors. It leaves me with a feeling of serenity, no matter what they might bring and how they present themselves to me. They have a fullness they did not before when I was forever casting my eyes forward to what was to come.

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 Seventy Six

I take my love to an appointment in the north suburbia of the city. We are sitting upon a hilltop from which you can see the city’s edge and then beyond, the vast distance of the prairies. Somewhere beyond that horizon the Lost Quarter begins, though its borders are ill-defined, if they exist at all.

As I sit banished in the parking lot of a strip mall awaiting for my love to finish, I watch construction workers gather around a pickup truck, standing across from each other, arms draped over the box. They talk and laugh and drink coffee and smoke, clearly in no hurry to begin their work. As they finish their coffees and cigarettes and still don’t begin working it becomes clear they are waiting for someone to arrive with the necessary supplies or equipment. I envy them this morning of paid idleness.

The sun is glaringly bright in the sky, not a cloud to be seen. A day for wandering not sitting in a car in a strip mall parking lot. The suburbs have always seemed a strange place to me. Unquestionably part of the city, yet having none of its best parts, why trying to craft the illusion that you are actually inhabiting a small and cozy community. Having grown up in the country, it feels false. Trying to be a little of both it ends up being nothing, a strange interstitial space, not unlike the Lost Quarter.

I have read that in our new pandemic era that the suburbs are becoming more popular, which is odd to me. The entire point of the suburbs was to live in proximity to a city core without the cost and with some of the feeling of a small town. But if your future work no longer requires you to venture downtown, why stay in this land of in-between and nowhere?

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 Seventy Five

After a cloudy, rainy and chilly day the sky cleared as night fell, the temperature dropping with it. I covered my tomatoes and other frost sensitive plants with a tarp to keep the cold away. This morning, walking with my love to her tower, I could almost see my breath clouding before me.

As we made our way down the quiet, subdued streets we saw a man approaching in the distance, walking with swinging hips. He began to somersault on the dewy grass as we came near, his expression exultant with a tinge of madness. His dark hair, which went down past his ears, flew up with each tumble, before settling back on his head as he rose up. We turned a corner and went on, while he climbed atop an electrical box, crouching down on his hands and knees looking up as though he were searching for a moon to howl at.

I returned home and removed the covers from the plants, all of which had survived the frost untouched. As I returned inside I saw a crow out the window flying parallel with where I stood, floating upon the air. I watched as it coasted along, momentarily entranced by the grace of its stillness in movement.

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 Seventy Four

Yesterday was as hot as a September day can be, the sun bright and the sky cloudless. My love and I spent the day wandering about the markets, collecting the bounty of the season. Peaches, nectarines, and apples. Green beans, potatoes, corn and beets. The fruit and the beans we will freeze, hoping to steal some of the season’s freshness and vitality to warm ourselves on a winter’s day.

Today fall has arrived, the temperature plunging over twenty degrees from yesterday’s high. One could say without warning, except for the fact that the evenings and mornings have been growing cooler and cooler these past weeks. The day was overcast, miserable looking, and finally, after what seemed hours of procrastination, this evening the sky opened and rain fell.

It is the first moisture in over a month and so welcome. In fact there is a fire in the mountains to the west that the cold and rain will help to quench. August was so hot and dry that the leaves on the trees outside our house are turning brown. Soon they will be falling. We do not get magnificent autumns of golden and red leaves. Instead the leaves will brown from drought, and those that do not will turn in a matter of days. One day green, the next a dull yellow, before falling unceremoniously to the ground.

There will be plenty of warm days still to come. In a day or two the weather will turn and it may feel like summer again. My tomatoes and herbs and greens all still grow. But today still feels like an announcement rather than a foreshadowing. The seasons are turning now and there is no holding them back. 

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 Seventy Three

You took everything from me. Everything.

A scream in the distance, hoarse and broken, carried by the wind. Clenched fists and veins bulging from the neck. Trembling hands and shaking knees. Tears form and dry before they can fall. Stalking off to nowhere, eyes empty, unseeing.

You took it all. You took it all.

They come to the valley of the dead, kings and queens, trains of retainers following behind. The merchants’ satchels have hidden compartments where they have secreted jewels and spices. But nothing shall pass beyond, except the wind.

How could you? How could you?

There was a time, long ago, when they came as conquerors, proselytizing as they went. They were clamorous and assured, with proper methods and learnings they were certain to apply. The land broke them, turned them aside, left them as little more than dust and despair. Names collected in unread books.