“And all at once summer collapsed into fall.” – Oscar Wilde
This morning, when Beaumont and I took our early morning walk along the river, a thin layer of frost-tipped dew covered the ground.
Autumn is falling.
Leaves are turning.
Geese are flying south.
In the northern hemisphere, we are orbiting away from the sun.
It happens every year. Days grow shorter, shadows grow longer as the sun’s rays lengthen. And though the nights have been growing longer since June’s Summer Solstice, evidence of our turning away from the sun grows stronger with the approach of the autumnal equinox.
This will be our second autumn under Covid’s thrall. As I look back over the past 18 months I am in awe of our human capacity to adapt, to shift, to do what we never imagined possible, what we never imagined would be necessary.
Stay home. Keep our distance from one another. Wear a mask. Sanitize everything. Avoid touch. Get a vaccine.
As I look back I see the toll it has taken on everyone around the world. It has been devastating.
In my extended family, a cousin lost her life to the virus. Others sickened and recovered. An aunt far away and all alone, was unable to leave her apartment for over a year and no one was able to visit. Vacations cancelled. Family reunions postponed. Children growing up at home with little interaction with playmates and schoolmates. Parents stressed with jobs and working at home and caring for children who are underfoot all day and all night long.
And still, there is joy. There is laughter. There is love.
As autumn falls, our numbers here in Alberta are rising with dizzying speed. More hospitalizations, more people in ICUs than at any other time during the pandemic. And the death count climbs as hospitals become overwhelmed with the influx of people needing care.
Yesterday, provincial leadership finally announced increased restrictions to try to bend the curve. Many fear too little, too late.
I fear more lives will be lost. More anger will rise as those who decry restrictions clash with those who are in favour.
For my beloved and I, hunkering down and limiting outside contact has once again become our norm. Double vaccinated, he is still at higher risk should he catch the virus. It’s not worth taking chances.
And as autumn colours grow brighter and birds fly south, I remind myself that, as with all things, all seasons, all times, this too shall pass.
My responsibility isn’t to change the viruses course, I am not that powerful. What I am powerful enough to do is the right things so that its sphere of influence in my life and those around me is as limited as possible. And while it was nice to feel for awhile like I could go outside and meet with friends and do the things I love without worrying about an invisible microbe’s presence, like autumn leaves turning, reality settles in as I once again come to grips with the fact there is a microbe of devastating impact in our midst. I can’t see it. I can’t change it but I can accept, with as much grace as possible, that I can do everything in my power to limit its spread and impact.
And that is what I must do as autumn leaves fall.
I can’t change the season’s turning. I can change how I dress to keep myself warm on frost-covered mornings.
I can’t change the virus. I can change how I behave to stop its spread.