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.

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