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 Five Hundred Twenty Six

A week of rain showers and cool. The mornings crisp and autumnal, announcing the coming season. It feels abrupt after the endless weeks of heat. I wandered by the river this morning and the water was higher after the rains than it has been since June. The sky is still blue, the smoke still absent for the time being, only thin clouds sketched across the horizon.

An odd time, not quite fall, but not feeling like summer any longer. We have been stranded in some nether region for much of the summer after the exultation of spring when the inoculations against the dread lord arrived and his powers began to decline. The smoke came first and then he returned, diminished to be sure, but still present, still stalking those who have declined the doses. The number of those affected and in hospital has steadily risen, while those taking their doses has dwindled. For a moment in the spring it truly felt like we would thwart the dread lord’s desires, but now it is unclear what awaits us in the fall and the winter. Will we be overwhelmed again or will the doses tell the tale? Everyone awaits the answer with dread.

I myself am confident in the inoculations, both for myself and my love and us all. They will carry the day in the end. But with so many still without, both here and around the world, it will be some time before that is the case. So we are left in this strange state where we will not face the quarantine measures of the last year, but we are still not free of the grippe reborn. How does one live in that world? We learned to live in the quarantine zone, exhausting as that was, and though we wanted to return to the world of before, that was never possible. Instead we shall have to learn to find our way in this one.

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 Five Hundred Nineteen

After the drought, the deluge. It has been a month and half since we had any rain, but last evening the skies finally erupted. It is still raining now as I write these words, a steady, soaking downpour. The smoke from the fires across the mountains, which had been as bad as it has been this summer these last days, has been beaten from the sky by the rain. The air smells glorious. Damp earth and thankful vegetation. The sense of relief, after so much dust, smoke and despair, is palpable.

I can recall the moment when the two towers fell. It felt then like the end of an era and start of a new, uncertain one. The ending of things is often ugly, bloody, and the end of the era I came of age in is no different. It was announced some time ago that western forces were leaving Afghanistan, but now that the day is actually here chaos has been unleashed. As always, those who said they were building the state, its infrastructure and armies, were simply lining their pockets, leaving a hollow shell that quickly crumbled under the advance of the Taliban. Twenty years and what was accomplished both there and in Iraq, those twin responses to the twin towers? Nothing but blood and ruin.

The last twenty years have seen the decline of the American project. It’s institutions are sclerotic, it’s focus inward, its democracy teetering. In Afghanistan, those who we claimed to thwarting have been restored. In Iraq and Syria it is hard to say what will come next, only that the peoples of those places will have little say in the matter. Tragedy upon tragedy. Twenty years worth and no end in sight.

With our inglorious exit from Afghanistan (and I say our because the Dominions have been involved in that project from the beginning and many have died for it) we seem to be embarking upon a new era again. One of American decline and retrenchment. One of dislocation from climate change, that will undoubtedly spill over into wars and migrations that will destabilize the current order of things. To say nothing of what another year, and more, of the grippe reborn may result in. All of us will be struggling and uncertain as we try to go about our living in the face of all these crises that seem to be compounding on each other.

It is difficult to watch the scenes of desperate, despairing people crowded into the Kabul airport, climbing onto planes, clinging to them even as they take off. They know this may be their only chance to get out before the lives they had are gone. Some will manage to get out surely, but so many others won’t. They will be left to whatever fate awaits them, however grim. We will read stories about it in a few years time, of how terrible all that followed was for them, and we will think again of how awful it is and wonder what we could have done differently. And we will hope that someday we are not the ones crowding an airport desperate for any way out.

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 Five Hundred Ten

It rained yesterday, the first time since the deluge that brought an end to the terrible heat wave in June. There has been day after day of hot weather since then, but we have yet to see another thunderstorm.The smoke, from the fires started by the heat wave, has persisted, stopping any thunderheads from forming as they typically would. It has even delayed my garden. Tomatoes have been late flowering and other plants have been slow to grow.

The rain was a piddling amount, barely enough to get the ground wet. But it was enough to clear the skies of smoke. For the first time in a month the sky is visible. Even on those days when the smoke wasn’t noticeable in the air there was still a haze above, a blanket over the sky. Now I can see clouds, actual clouds, for the first time in weeks, and behind them the glorious blue sky. I had forgotten how much joy there is in watching clouds drift by, their changing shapes, of seeing birds circle and dive and dart, of being able to see for miles and miles. It is a weight off my heart in a way I had not entirely expected. A normal day in these increasingly abnormal times.

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 Five Hundred Five

Five hundred days living with the dread lord, five hundred and the rest of our lives. We are at a strange moment in the pandemic here in these parts. The inoculation campaigns have been largely successful, though there remains much work to do on that front. The grippe reborn was in full retreat as a result, until all quarantine restrictions were relaxed at the beginning of last month. The result has been rising numbers of afflicted, as the dread lord seeks out those who have neglected to get their doses.

The government has responded by declaring the dread lord’s plague at an end. We will have to live with it now, they say, as if that isn’t what we’ve all been doing for the last five hundred days. How we will live with it is the question.

Here people are divided and uncertain. There are those who say the inoculations are enough, they are available to all who want them and it is up to everyone to determine whether they wish that protection or not. Others say we need a return to some restrictions to control the grippe reborn’s spread, particularly because children are unable to be inoculated. The first group reply that children are little affected by the dread lord, so it is a risk worth taking, while others reply that it is monstrous to even consider.

This is the next few years of all our lives it seems to me, or at least until we can manage to get inoculations across the world to all those who need it. The dread lord will always manage to find those he can do harm to. He will find his way around the defences we have erected with the inoculations. It will be nothing like the first five hundred days where we all lived in fear of what might come. But there will continue to be doubts about just how safe we are, questions about whether we are doing enough, and what enough would even be. There will be anger at further rules: anger at their necessity, anger at those who refuse to comply, and anger at those who have refused to do what is necessary for their communities and get inoculated.

All of this anger will result from the undeniable fact that we do not know how the next years will proceed, beyond the fact that the dread lord will shadow our lives. That not knowing sits in all of us. All of our doubt, fear and anger stems from that. It will stay with us the rest of our days, even if we somehow manage to vanquish the dread lord entirely, that destabilizing sense that we do not know what awaits us from day to day will remain.