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 Four Hundred Sixty Three

My love and I went for a walk to the great hill that looms over the north of the city, a vast parkway. With travel still circumscribed by the quarantine protocols here and elsewhere we have decided to make a project this summer of visiting various parks throughout the city, ones that we do not usually frequent. From its summit you can see the whole of the city and beyond sprawling out. Even on a cloudy, gloomy morning, as it was when we ventured there, we could see the mountains to the west and the prairie stretching in every other direction. To the east, beyond where our eyes could see, lay the Quarter, the roads there obscured by the clouds on the horizon.

The hill is so large it has its own hills and valleys that one discovers while wandering. The landscape changes as you go, one moment wide open grassland and then next descending into a forested valley. It is the place where the prairie meets the foothills, a battleground that neither ceded and both retain. To me though, the smell is of the Quarter. There is wolf willow and wild sage, buckbrush and wild roses, all combining to create that distinct smell that is the prairies for me.

We passed through a glen, a place where it looked like water might once have flowed long ago. Trees flourished on either side of the pathway, though the grass did not. It was dry with none of the profusion of brush and flowers we had earlier gone by. Two crows stood in trees on either side of the pathway calling out to each other, low and croaking.

We came from there to a small basin where the runoff from the winter gathered in a pond. It is dry now, though the ground is still soft. There were dead limbs of trees and other branches cast about like detritus from some retreating sea. One of the crows followed us, watchful from a tree, its eerie call silencing all the other birds. I looked up at where it perched in the tree, making eye contact with it briefly, before it took off, heading east toward the Quarter.

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 Four Hundred Fifty Five

We are truly in summer now, the days warm and the evenings pleasant. It has been as hot a June as I can recall with several days in the thirties. With the lifting of some of the quarantine restrictions, restaurants with their patios are now fully open and people are flocking to them. It is wonderful to see people gathering, smiling faces and laughter.

The retreat of the grippe reborn continues in these parts. Each day brings dwindling numbers, even with the relaxation of the protocols. It is proof, as if we needed more having seen what has happened elsewhere, that the inoculations work. I am due to receive my second before the end of the month. Hopefully my love will be able to as well. It seems most everyone who wants them should be able to have their doses by the end of July.

But therein lies the problem. Those seeking out their first doses have dwindled as well. We are stalled just below the seventy percent mark that the government has set for ending restrictions. They have grown desperate to encourage more people to take up the doses, launching a lottery and trying to reach out to those communities where the uptake has been slow. With the shrinking footprints of the dread lord many must feel that there is no rush, that the risk without is minimal. And for now that may be true, but in the fall as flu season returns the dread lord will as well, perhaps armed with new and seductive powers.

There is no convincing some people though. No matter how many millions receive their doses, with few showing any ill effects, no matter how much the dread lord is thwarted by those who have received it, there will still be those who claim the inoculations don’t work. They talk of it as being an experimental treatment, as if every treatment we receive from doctors, every drug from every pharmacy wasn’t based on experiments and trials. They dismiss the dread lord’s power and say there is no need to protect themselves against him, forgetting all those who do not have any defences.

It would be one thing if they simply declined to have their doses, but they feel the need to always loudly insist upon the righteousness of their refusal and to verbally assault those of us who make another choice. They demand a choice for themselves, which they have, but that isn’t enough for them. They loudly scream against anyone who feels differently and it is evident if they had their way none of us would receive an inoculation. They are the same loud, vain, fools who have spent the last year crying out against the quarantine protocols, preferring to pretend that the dread lord isn’t real. Life would be much easier if the things we can’t control were all illusions. What will happen when they are ended, I wonder, where will their anger take them?

As I write this my parents send word they at the inoculation site awaiting their second dose. Day by day there will be more. It really does feel as though we are approaching the end this time, though, of course, the war against the dread lord will never be won entirely.

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 Four Hundred Fifty

The rivers are swollen, lapping up on the banks, threatening to overflow as the current races by. My love and I were in the mountains several weeks ago and the higher reaches were still heavy with snow, the peaks gleaming white in the sun. The water was trickling down from everywhere, the long, slow release of winter’s grip. Our last night it rained for hours, what seemed a passing storm getting caught among the summits and settling in to empty its cargo. Overnight the rain turned to snow and we awoke to a white world. That is life in the mountains. Pack for four seasons when you go, as you will experience all of them, and certainly we did. 

My love and I went for a walk along one of the city’s rivers last weekend, a return to our habits of the previous year when we were still acclimatizing ourselves to life with the grippe reborn. All those new practices have become routine now. It is hard to recall a time when we didn’t have masks at the ready or to ask each other whether we felt comfortable sitting on this patio or entering this place that before we would have wandered into without a thought. An anxious existence, though that anxiety has faded to a dull ebb that exists mostly in the background, cropping up only every now and again to paralyze us.

There are two rivers that wander through the city, each distinct in character. One is narrow and winding with a lazy current, the other broader, but still shallow, always moving at a quick pace. This time of year, with the spring melt, they are transformed, unrecognizable, much of their banks underwater and their currents a loud torrent. If there is to be flooding now is the time when it will happen, June bringing both rain and melting snow in the western mountains, the source of both waterways.

The last year feels like we have spent all our days with a swollen current, eroding the banks we had established to keep it at bay. Before a little upsurge from dark and stormy days would hardly be noticed, but now, even the smallest shower can send the waters spilling over the banks, wearing them away. There was a great flood in this city nearly a decade ago now, the two rivers overflowing their banks everywhere, swallowing up whole streets and neighbourhoods, leaving devastation in its wake. We have spent the years since restoring all that was ruined and building new banks and berms to help stop that from happening again. It is a long, slow process. We will all have to do something of the same kind of work ourselves as our lives begin to return to what they were before the dread lord stalked these lands.

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 Four Hundred Forty Two

What a change two weeks has brought us. The tide that threatened to overwhelm us has at last begun to recede as the grippe reborn slowly loses his hold on these parts. The speed of the drop in those afflicted has been as startling as the rise and must surely be the result of the inoculation campaign which has picked up pace in the last weeks. It is heartening to see the effectiveness of the inoculations play out in real time.

Restrictions are now being lifted. Across the Dominions the story is the same. Numbers are falling precipitously and plans for a return to normalcy are being announced. In these parts the plans are aggressive, with an end to all quarantine restrictions called for by the end of June. We are, again, out of step with the rest of the Dominions, who are much more conservative in their proposed plans. It looks even more odd when one considers we were the last to see the tide of the dread lord begin to retreat.

Of course, given the events of the past month it is no surprise. The government is being torn apart by the debate over the necessity of the restrictions and the premier desperately needs some kind of win to save his leadership. A cautious approach would probably be better. Far better to be able to move up relaxation of the quarantine protocols than to move too quickly and be forced into retreat yet again. But that seems to be this government’s preferred mode of operation.

Despite all that, it feels as though a weight has begun to be lifted from our lives with the falling cases. I will still be cautious, regardless of whether the restrictions remain in place, at least until I have my second dose. How can one not remain cautious after all that has happened the last year? It is hard to allow myself to hope after all the times I have done so and it has been thwarted. Instead I shall wait and see what comes, giving in to neither hope nor despair.