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 Two Hundred Eighty

Christmas Eve in the year of the grippe reborn. It is strange to think that at this time last year we were gathering with our families and friends to celebrate unaware that the dread lord was already showing himself in certain parts of the world. We would not experience the full weight of his terrible power for months, but he was there, operating in secret, marshalling his forces and sending his minions out to all corners of the world to do his terrible work.

We now live in a different world after this lonely and despairing year. Last Christmas seems several lifetimes ago, another brighter age that we inhabit the ruins of. And though there is hope upon the horizon, it is still far away. We have many months left of this half-life before we can all begin to emerge from our isolation.

But at least we know there is hope now, the promise of an end and the eventual defeat of the grippe reborn. This week there was word that he has altered his guise yet again and there was fear that it might allow him to slip through the inoculation’s defences. But we know our defences work so it is a much simpler thing to alter them to counter whatever the dread lord might do.

The days have begun to get longer now that we are past the solstice, though the change isn’t yet noticeable. That is what I will be watching for. Signs of longer, warmer days and the shattering of the grippe reborn’s power that will arrive with them. That is reason enough to celebrate this year, that and the fact we have endured through all the trials that have come our way. We all know that there is more to get through, but we also know that it is within us to do so.

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 Two Hundred Seventy Nine

A grey day with the promise of snow. It arrives with a vengeance as the light begins to dwindle. Huge, heavy flakes descend in clumps. The ground, brown only a few moments before, is soon enveloped in white. The roads hold out the longest, but soon they are blanketed as well, the drivers having only those who have gone before them to guide their way.

My love and I head out as the storm began in earnest with Christmas cookies to deliver. Ginger, shortbread, peppermint and crinkles, along with some hot chocolate bombs, the latest baking rage which my love had to attempt for herself. With this bounty we make our slow way across the city. We leave the cookies on the step of my sister’s house, collecting the box she has left for us. She waves at us from inside, while on the phone, such is Christmas in this year of the grippe reborn.

The snow grows thicker and thicker and by the time we return home five centimetres have accumulated. The other buildings are barely visible through the falling snow, the flakes so dense it looks like a cloud enveloping everything. It is almost as though the snow isn’t falling, it is simply present, inhabiting this realm from earth to sky.

Morning and nearly forty centimetres has settled upon us and the snow continues to fall. People trudge by through uncleared sidewalks while the sound of snow blowers echoes through the quiet of the morning. The roads are empty for the most part, with Christmas close and the quarantine protocols in effect few people need to go into the office. Those that do face an arduous journey.

On our street the only regular traffic throughout the day are the mail and delivery people, rushing to deliver packages before Christmas, their harried day made infinitely worse by the weather. Two of them get stuck on our street, drawing crowds to help them escape the clutches of the snow.

Afternoon and the snow finally stops, the sky clearing in less than an hour like workers clearing out after a job is done. The sun shines down on a gleaming white world.

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 Two Hundred Seventy Eight

He awoke to find her gone, the bed empty beside him and the pillow cold. The room was dark and he fumbled for his glasses, trying to make out the time on the clock. It was flashing 12:00 at him and he groaned, wondering when the power had gone out and for how long. After contemplating it for a time, he decided he should get up and make sure the fridge had come back on.

There was a worry nagging at him, like a hand pressed down on his chest, though his thoughts were still foggy with sleep and he couldn’t articulate it. He didn’t flick on any lights as he left the bedroom, not wanting to intrude on her sleep wherever she had ended up. They both sometimes moved to the couch or the other bedroom during a restless night so as not to disturb the other.

The clock on the stove and microwave were also blinking. The light in the fridge came on when he opened the door and he could feel the cool air when he leaned his head in. His worry only intensified as he closed the door. Something was wrong, but he couldn’t place it. He stood in the kitchen casting about for something to put his anxiety upon but there was only darkness and the glimmer of light through the windows from the street.

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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 Two Hundred Seventy Seven

Tonight will be the longest night of the year at last. It feels like we have been living in that night for the last month, with the growing darkness, the grippe reborn’s continuing incursions in these parts, and quarantine protocols enacted to combat him.

This morning I rose later than usual, though I am still working at my correspondences this week, and was surprised at the darkness. It was as though it was the dead of night at eight in the morning, not even a glimpse of sun out our eastern windows. Only a week or so ago it was light out by the time I returned from walking my love to her tower for work.

This year of the dread lord I understand, more than ever, why so many of our ancestors celebrated the solstice. I’ve been much more observant of the ebbs and flows of the seasons this year. They feel like the only real markers of time I have in this year where every day has felt the same, with nothing to distinguish them. In years past I would have noted the spreading darkness of the long nights, but there would have been much to distract myself from it. Now there is nothing to do but watch its steady encroachment upon the day.

So today I will celebrate, as so many people have over the centuries, the beginning of the end of the long nights. Someday, not any day soon, but someday the days will be long, full of light and warmth. Now, at last, we can watch it’s steady approach and imagine the pleasant days 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 Two Hundred Seventy Four

The other day we drove by my offices, which I have not been in, or even near, since March, life not taking me to that area of the city for any other purpose. It was strange to look upon familiar buildings that did not feel familiar at all. They seemed either larger or smaller than I remembered, the colours not quite matching my memory.

A massive new building is being constructed there. When I left work it was still just a skeleton of steel and concrete. One could sense the size of the thing and something of its shape, but little else. Now those bones are hidden, an unlovely exterior covering most of the building, though a few gaps remain. It is another stage in a metamorphosis, though its final shape and colour are still to be revealed.

To the north there was a small shopping centre with restaurants, a pharmacy, a butcher and a bar. I often wandered over at lunch when I was in the office, our campus having no good options for food. All of that is gone now, torn down for a new complex with shopping, restaurants, a hotel and condos. Construction was supposed to have begun this year, but it has been delayed by the presence of the grippe reborn. Now there is only a parking lot there, sitting empty for the most part, because few people drive to the campus any longer.

It sometimes feels as though the grippe reborn has exposed the seams in our life we didn’t even know were there. What is obvious and ever present is often overlooked in favour of new happenstance. It is too easy to notice all that has changed so abruptly with the arrival of the dread lord, but what is more challenging is to see what hasn’t changed, or what is changing slowly. Like a glacier, you can only see what has happened with the perspective of years.

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 Two Hundred Seventy Three

Our world has shrunk again with the arrival of the latest round of severe quarantine restrictions. With my love returning to work at home we no longer even have our shared walk to her tower in downtown before the sun rises. Yesterday we did not leave the house at all, both of us busy with our work. Across the street I can see others now returned to their homes during the day, light in windows that once were dark.  

We shall see what the next weeks bring as the holidays arrive and people are tempted to venture out more with everyone off work and longing to gather with family and friends. My family has already determined that we will be postponing Christmas until it is safe to gather. We are not observant in any way – Christmas is just an excuse to get together – so it is no great hardship if we have to delay that by a few weeks or longer. We know that eventually we will see each other again, particularly if we observe the quarantine protocols.

I know the holidays are growing near because I am getting restless in my correspondences, easily distracted by anything I see out my office window. There is magic there everyday, even just in the shifting of light and cloud in the sky. Whatever is there is of more interest than what I might find on my various screens.

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 Two Hundred Seventy Two

The last few days have seen the first inoculations in the Greater Dominions. These have taken place with the press there to document each swab of alcohol and insertion of needle. In these parts I believe the first will happen later today. An undeniable milestone, even with so far left for us to journey.

The first dosed here will be a nurse apparently, while in other places they have chosen long term care workers. It is strange that we all immediately recognize that such people work in those institutions that house the elderly, without referencing them at all. That seems emblematic of those institutions which have failed us time and again during the grippe reborn’s assault upon our people. Their failure is ours; it takes place because so many of us prefer not to dwell on such eventualities. Living there should not be a prison or a punishment. It is an undeniable fact of life that so many of us will have to face eventually and we must do better.

It has become abundantly clear to me as the scourge of the dread lord has progressed that we, as a people, are cheap. I myself have always been exceedingly frugal, an inheritance given to all those descended from Those Who Came who survived on farms through the Great Depression. The failures of our governments and institutions in the face of the dread lord can in large part be traced back to an unwillingness to invest in preparedness for a crisis without a date, whose eventuality while known is uncertain.

We argue and debate spending any penny on infrastructure, daycare, education, health care, elderly care, the list goes on and on, finding endless ways to declare it too expensive. The cost doesn’t disappear because we don’t like it though, and we all end up paying for it, one way or another. We are penny wise and pound foolish always, seeing the immediate cost in higher taxes but never accounting for the benefits we all see from these investments.

The latest such argument, which sprang up again this week, is around the tax on carbon dioxide emissions. Critics are happy to point to the rising prices that will result to gasoline, heating our homes and even to goods, without noting that by not taxing it we all incur costs in damage to the environment that will be far greater in the future.

We are forever shortsighted and selfish, and I am no better than anyone else on this account. How do we convince ourselves it is important to consider the future, not just ours but future generations? It is all so easy to dwell in the now, but as the dread lord’s arrival in these parts and others clearly demonstrates, preparation and investment now will make a significant difference. For though, as today shows, the grippe reborn’s reign will end soon enough, we must not forget that he will return. In another guise, with different powers, and again we shall find ourselves in this terrible struggle. It is essential that we not forget the price we have all paid so that we might not again.

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 Two Hundred Seventy One

A winter cold has at last arrived in the Lost Quarter. The air is different, thin and seeking, finding its way into your softest parts. The exhaust from every building is visible now, clouds drifting up slowly in the air, seeming to hang there before dissipating. I watch it float along and think of all that is not visible in our world unless circumstances provide us with the perspective to see it.

My love spends her day baking, while I relax. She makes pans of cinnamon buns, chocolate bombs and rum balls. When she is done we gather up the fruits of her labour and head out into the cold to deliver them to her friends. A warm Christmas gift on a chilly day. She will not let the dread lord deny her the joy of giving to those she cares about.

It is the last day before the latest quarantine restrictions go into effect and everywhere we see people out, getting their nails and hair done, eating in a restaurant for what will be the last time for a month at least. For the most part it is quiet and subdued, the streets empty of walkers given the cold and even the roads uncluttered of vehicles. Everyone is settling in for the winter, not a winter anyone wanted, but the winter we will have.

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 Two Hundred Seventy

The first inoculations against the grippe reborn in these parts will take place this week. It is almost beyond belief that this is happening. In my most optimistic moments I did not believe it would be so soon. Earlier in the year I felt we wouldn’t begin inoculations until next spring or summer and that most of us would not have a chance at a dose until the fall at the earliest. Now it seems likely that those most at risk will receive their doses in the early part of the new year and a more general program of inoculation will begin by spring. By fall most of us may have received our doses.

I’m sure there will be challenges in meeting this timeline. We are not the only ones who need this inoculation and there are limited facilities to produce it. The logistics of getting it where it needs to be will be immense, as will determining how to distribute it. No doubt there will be delays and unforeseen problems along the way.

All of these are challenges that are easily met, problems that can be solved. And this is not the only inoculation. Another is going through approvals and may be available shortly. And others will no doubt follow in the coming months. We shall not have one weapon against the dread lord but many.

I am almost giddy at the thought that this might soon be over. At times this that felt almost impossible. It seemed as though we might be trapped forever in our desperate battle with the dread lord. His power was so great and his sway over so many seemed so absolute. But now we need only endure these next few months and our lives will be ours to live again.

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 Two Hundred Sixty Seven

Snow, wet and heavy, falls in the darkness as morning comes. There is no sign of the sun as light steals into the day, just a grey sky made visible. The snow ceases after a time, leaving white spots in a few places but the ground still mostly bare. The clouds take on more shape above, not just a vast swathe of grey. There is grey and white, form and depth.

Word came yesterday that there will be further quarantine restrictions put in place. Hardly a surprise given the failure of the current measures to dent the grippe reborn’s assault in any way. His forces were simply too great for limited restrictions to have any hope of working. Our government waited too long, not wanting to put stricter protocols in place. In the end it has left them with the strictest measures as their only choice.

The protocols, which will take effect in a few days, are nearly the same as those we faced in the spring. We are not allowed to gather with anyone indoors or out. I met friends this past weekend for a walk along the river and that will likely be the last I see of them until January when the restrictions may be lifted. Stores are the only things allowed to be open and they are limited in the numbers they can allow inside. Restaurants, bars, and cafes are allowed to do take out, but no seated customers. Libraries and museums will be closed.

It will be a quiet Christmas during the loneliest part of the winter. That was always going to be true to some degree, but now we are left with no choice. A date on a calendar has no particular meaning though, so we will celebrate Christmas with our family sometime in January or February when the protocols are hopefully relaxed. By then inoculations should be well underway, if all goes well, and we will be on our way out of the long night of the dread lord at last.

In fact, as I write this, word comes that the first inoculations have been approved in the Greater Dominions. The first doses will be given in these parts next week. The numbers will not be huge, but it is a start. There is an end in sight and we can almost see it from where we are now.