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.

Post-apocalyptic stories have always had an odd comfort to them, because there is a clear before and after. A simple cause and effect that demands a coherent response. It is easy to see what has happened, what has befallen humanity, and to understand what must be done. They are comforting because reality refuses to conform with such narrative simplicity. We trundle along, talking endlessly about the possibility of an apocalypse, and something must surely be done, and nothing seems to happen while it envelopes us.

Even our current apocalypse, the arrival of the grippe reborn on these shores, came slowly like an approaching storm, the sky ominous. We watched it coming, the clouds of pestilence building, and we debated and argued until suddenly it was here. The smoke was everywhere, the sun was red in the sky, and we looked around in a kind of hushed wonder.

When will it be over, that is the question all of us cannot help to ask. The truth is it will go on, even after we have erected our defences, for they will not hold. They will need to be rebuilt. That moment we are waiting for, when the smoke will clear and everything will become evident, will never come. We only have these moments, on and on, fumbling through the haze.

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