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 Six Hundred Ten

Our long, glorious autumn seems to finally be drawing to a close. This week has brought the first real taste of cold for the year. A winter chill that matches the ever shortening days. There has been snow to the north, east and west, though only a few flurries here. Soon enough, no doubt. We are returning to the realm of the long, cold night.

A few weeks ago my love and I ventured out in the darkness to see if we could spot any northern lights. There was a solar storm that was making them particularly active in these parts. I cannot remember seeing any this far south before, but people were catching glimpses of them in the centre of the city itself, which I had not thought possible. My love has never seen the lights, not having grown up in this sub-arctic region, and so we found a country road and settled down to wait. After two hours we caught a hint of something behind the clouds that massed across much of the sky and declared victory, returning home. Of course, if we had only known we could have stayed home and gotten up at two in the morning and seen a fantastic display from our doorstep.

The storm that brought the winter chill here and snow all around us also wreaked havoc over the mountains to the west. Days of rain, which I remember well from my time living on the coast, led to rivers overflowing their banks and mudslides. East of the coast where the fires raged all summer there was snow and rain, which again led to flooding, landslides and washouts. As my love pointed out, with so many trees now dead from the fires, the earth on the hillsides and mountains was weakened without those roots to hold it strong and absorb the water.

At the moment all roads and rail to the western coast are closed, the damage so extensive it will take weeks to repair. Even before this the price of goods was rising because of shortages and now those shortages will grow more acute. Ships will have to be routed to more northern ports that do not have the same capacity, or the goods will have to go overland across the United States to make it to the rest of Dominions. It will take a good long while to set all that to right, to say nothing of the homes and livelihoods of those impacted. Just as the tide of the grippe reborn has crested and begun to fall back here, and we allow ourselves to imagine resuming our normal lives, another has rushed in to take its place.

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 Ninety Seven

More frailer than the flowers, these precious hours

She came to these parts not so long ago, on a journey far from her home. As with so many others, yearning and happenstance set her on her way from her island home, first to the great Arabian desert and from there to the Dominions. Ultimately she found her way to the Quarter and, as with so many others, she settled for a time, with no real intent of staying long.

The stories of Those Who Came, following the bitter conquest and exile of Those Who Went Away, are her story. Arriving in this place that is, in so many ways unwelcoming. The people are polite to a fault, but distant, closed off. Everyone keeps to themselves as a matter of course, which for a newcomer means it is hard to find ones way in this world that seems indifferent to your presence. The climate offers no comfort. It is a dry place, dry as the desert she lived in for a time, but cold and dark in the long winters as well. She cannot quite get used to it, no matter how long she remains. Her skin always feels parched and flaking, like it is drawn too tight over her flesh.

The early days in the Quarter were hard for her, harder than she had ever imagined. She felt lost and questioned why she had come, leaving so many friends behind in the desert and the islands, finding herself alone with only acquaintances to rely on. But she persisted and persevered, finding work and a place of her own, and by and by began to feel a part of this strange, indifferent land. She met someone, a man who likes pancakes and ice cream, and tentatively they began to build a life together. Like so many others who come for a time, it seemed she was here to stay.

Unlike many others who find themselves in these parts she has no nostalgia for her home, but the yearning to go elsewhere still comes now and again. A longing for friends as close as the ones she had in her youth. But it is hard to make friends as one gets older, a reticence that arrives for us all it seems as we grow set in our habits of being. She feels now that she has lost something of herself, left in the desert or the islands, a shadow of what she was. When her husband tells her she is the same person she always was, that all of the things that brought her to this place are still with her, as much a part of her as her doubts and fears, she isn’t sure whether she believes that.

There is a lightness in her that sets others at ease; quick with a smile and laughter. Joy is hard to find, especially in these long grim months under the siege of the Grippe Reborn where it seems nothing is as it was. She has a gift of discovering it in the simple things in life. A walk in the western mountains. A warm cup of hot chocolate on an autumn day. A shared meal in a restaurant. Wandering among shops just to see what is there. Bringing home yet another plant to put upon the shelves.

She has brought herself far in this world and has farther to go yet, wherever happenstance and desire leads. Like the wind in these parts, nothing is fixed, nothing stands still. Yet, no matter what changes are wrought, it remains the Quarter. She is a part of it, as much as anyone can be.