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 Thirty One

Winter has arrived at last in these parts bringing snow and cold with it. As I sit here I can see the snow steadily drifting down from my window. The sky is heavy with clouds hanging just above the city. This weekend I went out to buy a gift for friends going through some troubled times and for the first time this season had to put on a winter jacket and all the associated winter regalia. The air was bracing in my lungs, crisp and cutting.

It is something of a relief to see that familiar white. Not only is it more fitting for the season – the gleam of snow under the moonlight and streetlights goes well with these long nights – it is much needed. After a dry and hot summer, the fall was warm and just as dry. The rivers in this city are as low as I can remember them being. As much as I have enjoyed our temperate autumn, we will pay a price for it next spring if winter doesn’t bring substantial snow. These last six months, beginning with the unbelievable heat of June, the smoke, fires and drought of the summer, and the unseasonably warm fall and the flooding and storms to the west all seem like a grave pronouncement that climate change will be impacting us for the rest of our lives. We can no longer pretend that is a problem whose effects will be felt later.

What times we live in. For the first half of my life it seemed that the world was steadily getting better, the great struggles of the century reaching a peaceful conclusion. The Berlin wall fell, the cold war ended, apartheid as well. There were trouble spots and problems one could see looming, but they all felt manageable. Then the towers in New York fell and madness followed with it. One cannot help but look at the last twenty years and see a steady decline of our institutions and the fabric of our societies.

And now we are faced with existential crises – of climate and the Grippe Reborn. We have tried to meet these challenges and have succeeded in some cases and failed in others. What I am left with is the sense that none of this will be easy. It will be hard work and it will require much of all of us and our institutions. There is no guarantee we will be equal to the task.

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