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 Eighty Three

The creek beds are dry now, spring runoff a distant memory. The grass long ago turned brown in the summer heat. He can see his breath in the air as he sets out in the morning. It is still dark out, only a hint of light on the eastern horizon. How did that happen, he wonders, it seems like only last week the sun was visible in the sky by the time he set out in the morning.

Habits. The things that make up a day. Up in the morning at dawn, or thereabouts, coffee and porridge for breakfast, and then about his day. The cattle are gone now, sold early in August with the drought eating up the pastures, so he has his days to himself. He walks in the morning up into the hills west of home, cutting across the dry creeks, climbing to the highest point where he can see the prairies spread out before him. His strides are long and purposeful always, forever hurrying on to his next task, though now there is no particular need to hurry.

After his walk is done he busies himself with this and that. Projects are a pleasure now, where before they were always something that had to be fit in between more urgent work. He builds fences and tends to the trees he’s planted to create a wind break around the yard. These parts there is always wind. It is never still. If there is nothing to do or the weather is poor he will sit inside and read a book. Before there were always things to be done, an urgency to every task, but now a lazy day can be allowed. Time is a luxury he can indulge.

Evenings he will sit with his wife, both of them reading or maybe playing a hand or two of cards. Crib usually. A long winter awaits. There will be no calving of cows, no going out at the dead of night in the brutal cold to check. He will walk in the hills until the snow is too deep to allow it. The days will be his own.

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 Sixty Two

Everyday now in these parts comes word of people dying from the Dread Lord Grippe Reborn. That has been true for nearly six hundred days now, but never have we seen the numbers that we have this last month. It stands in stark contrast to the rest of the Greater Dominions and the inoculated world where deaths have declined with inoculation campaigns. Though only a minority here haven’t taken the doses – somewhere in the range of 20-25% – they are all concentrated together in rural communities, where as many as 50% aren’t inoculated. The Dread Lord barely touched them before, but he is ravaging them now that they have no defences against him.

It is an odd thing to hear of all this death, all this sickness, to see desperate doctors and nurses at their breaking point because the hospitals are near collapsing, and yet by and large everyone goes about their days as before. To an extent that has always been the case, but at the beginning of the pandemic, and even last winter and spring, when the harshest quarantine protocols were enacted, we felt the gravity of the situation. It was reflected in the curtailments to our day to day lives, even if relatively few of us were directly struck down by the Grippe Reborn. But now our lives continue unchanged as our hospitals are drowning and it is hard to reconcile.

My grandfather came of age during the second great war in the last century, but he did not fight. His own father was failing by then and so my grandfather was exempted from the conscription. It was deemed essential that the farm he was managing in the Lost Quarter keep producing food for the war effort. And so my grandfather stayed and farmed and had to face the parents of all his friends who were dying in Europe. All the rest of his life he regretted that he had been stuck there while the great events of his time played out an ocean away. He was restless after the war, forever planning to abandon the farm and head off on some new venture, starting anew with his family. My grandmother was continually talking him out of it. By the time I knew him, he spoke with pride about the farm he had built and given to his children, but there was always a tinge of regret when he spoke of the war he had not participated in. He was forever fascinated with it, in a way that my relatives who had fought in its battles were not.

It feels now like we are all so distant from the front lines of this battle with the Dread Lord, left to go about our days while matters of great consequence play out elsewhere. That is often the feeling of life in the Quarter, where nothing of consequence to the rest of the world has ever taken place it seems. The difference is that rarely do things of consequence affect us either, certainly not to the degree that the battle with the Dread Lord does now. Would we feel differently if we could see into the ICUs and hospitals, see how the fight is taken to the enemy? There are pictures, but pictures do not convey the weight of what is in those rooms. Nothing does.

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 Sixty Two

Truly a  glorious autumn in these parts, the most perfect I can recall. An autumn by which all others should be measured. The weather has been pleasant, with little rain or wind, and as a result we have been given the pleasure of watching the leaves turn from green to golden. So often here the transition from summer to fall is abrupt, signalled by a storm, sometimes even by snow, which transforms the leaves in a matter of days from green to yellow to the ground. This year the leaves are lingering even after they have turned, giving all the trees golden crowns.

This past weekend my love and I took advantage of the marvellous weather and took to the high bluffs above the northern river of the city. From that vantage point we could see the long curve of the river through the city as it makes its way east. Flanking it on either side were a profusion of golden trees, even a few red. The day was perfect, warm with hardly a breeze stirring. From the bluffs we made our way down to the river, stopping for a dinner and beer on the way. There we sat and watched people wandering by, everyone out for the night enjoying the weather and the autumn leaves. Hearing the laughter and the chatter of passersby, while watching the river flow was as perfect a night as I can imagine.

The next day we ventured out again, this time to the smaller, southern river that passes nearby our home. There is a park and pathways adjacent to it and we walked among the trees there. My love delights in the crackle and crunch of the leaves beneath her feet. We stood there for a time, letting the leaves fall upon us as the breeze stirred, as wonderful a shower as a spring rain. We returned home, the words of the old poem echoing through my mind: nothing gold can stay.