End of summer

I haven’t yet succumbed to long pants. But the summer is definitely over.  When bicycling today upon my usual route about the neighbourhood and along the Ottawa Valley Trail I saw a maple tree entirely of yellow leaves. It shone vividly in the slanted early morning sunrays. Many others are on their way from verdancy to collage. The canyon of sheltering trees on the erstwhile railway right-of-way shall soon abbreviate its mantle until exhausted to the flat grey solemnity of November and impending winter.

The weather is for the moment mercurial; and we may yet have the so-called “Indian Summer” to punctuate the final blow upon heat and growth. Yet already I am settling for a period of reminiscence, reflection and hopeful evolution. If there is anything about which to trumpet it is that we’ve apparently been subject to a pandemic of dubious celebrity.

Spanish flu, also known as the Great Influenza epidemic or the 1918 influenza pandemic, was an exceptionally deadly global influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus. The earliest documented case was March 1918 in Kansas, United States, with further cases recorded in France, Germany and the United Kingdom in April. Two years later, nearly a third of the global population, or an estimated 500 million people, had been infected in four successive waves. Estimates of deaths range from 17.4 million to 100 million, with an accepted general range of 25–50 million, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.

The 1918 Spanish flu was the first of three flu pandemics caused by H1N1 influenza A virus; the most recent one was the 2009 swine flu pandemic. The 1977 Russian flu was also caused by H1N1 virus, but it mostly affected younger populations. The ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, which began in December 2019 and is caused by Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, is the deadliest respiratory virus pandemic since Spanish flu due to its spread worldwide and high death toll.

Otherwise the occasion for hibernation is not completely dismissed. There is no longer any winter sport in which I would care (or be able) to participate. But having the privilege to retreat to the security of one’s nest is not to be diminished. For the first time in years I feel as though I am resisting mobility for the purpose of enforcing time for adjudication and formation. Bouncing from one country to another every six months is by definition a disruptive undertaking.  It isn’t just the winding up it’s the winding down – and in both directions! Developing the sense of acquaintance one has at home is never the same abroad. The rude admission about being anywhere for six months is that it really does become second nature in many aspects; but seldom is the level of quietude the same as at home. Accordingly my vagabond spirit is for the time being quelled to allow recovery of dwindled affection. This winter (and 2021) are the only winters we’ve spent in this apartment. Last winter was a novelty and sustained a hope for the future. I won’t say hope is now lost but I am more inclined to accept that the future is uncertain.