January 25, 2022

It’s cold.


Now is the winter of our discontent…

-from Richard III, William Shakespeare


And now it’s bitter cold, with highs in the upper twenties and lows in the low teens.  The sun is at its highpoint for the day, in a clear, pale-blue sky, but still not far from the horizon.  Shadows of skeletal trees splay long on the asphalt.  Glassy ice-covered ponds and puddles, ensconced in decaying leaves and twiggy, leafless brush, shine a bright reflection of the surrounding hibernating flora.  Streams meander in bright, silvery, serpentine belts of mirror, winding their way, motionless, into the distant wood around tree, rock and hillock.  It’s quiet, so very quiet.  I can hear my pantlegs rubbing against each other and the soft pad of my boots as I walk along.  Waldo’s misty breath hangs in the air with each pant, visible for only a few seconds before its moisture is ravenously sucked up by the cold dry air.  Nature is on hold, awaiting warmer, sunnier days.

Rabbits, squirrels and birds must be huddled in their winter quarters; none are out to be seen.  Just a few days ago, they showed themselves cavorting in pairs, in the grass, up tree trunks and in the sky.  They must have come to the conclusion that this was a day to snuggle in their nests, to hold tight to their breasts whatever warmth they could engender.  I probably would too, if it weren’t for the fact that I have a nice warm comfy place to go to when I’m done walking.  Waldo, he doesn’t seem to care one way or the other about being in the cold.  He’s eager to hit the trail and gleefully bounds around until we get home.  Even once there, he spends much of his time out on the balcony, surveying his dogdom from on high.  He does come in to warm up on occasion, though.

It’s still safe to be outdoors, but right now, in the icy cold of the Covid pandemic, we humans should all be staying home, like the rabbits, squirrels and birds — as much as possible.  We should be jealously holding our health close to our chests like our animal friends do their warmth on a cold wintry day.  Also, we need to do whatever else we can think of to protect ourselves and others, like get vaccinated and wear masks when around others.  The Omicron variant is raging, with the daily numbers of the newly infected rising to double of any peak seen before.  It looks like it’s not as deadly, percentage wise, as the Delta variant, but it can still make you very sick and kill.  Hospitalizations are soaring in large numbers, although most just need supplemental oxygen.  The number of intubated ICU patients has not, thankfully, surged as much, but there are so many sick from the disease that even at lower percentages of serious illness, the numbers are large.  Those who have died from Covid have not shown a dramatic increase in number with the Omicron variant, but plenty are still dying.

We really need to hold the course, this pandemic is not over.  Each and every one of us should be doing whatever we can to remain uninfected and avoid spreading the virus further.   The more people who are sick, the more virus there is out there and the more opportunity the virus has to mutate into something even nastier than what we’ve seen so far.  Studies have shown that getting the virus is no permanent bulwark against getting it again.  It appears, for example, that, for now, if you get the Omicron variant, you will have some resistance to getting the Delta variant – for six months or so.  The Delta variant does not seem to offer much resistance to getting the Omicron variant, however, and it is not unusual for someone to recover from Delta to turn around and get Omicron.

I know, I know, pandemic fatigue is eating at all of us.  Thank God Waldo and I can still safely go out for our daily walks.  I don’t know how I would deal with a border collie who couldn’t be exercised.  But, if I needed to, I would find a way.  We must do everything we can to stop the spread of this disease.  We need to continue to be careful, very careful, and avoid as much exposure as we can.  This is not the time relax our vigilance and take unnecessary risks.  Eventually, like every other pandemic in the past, the urgency of our response will fade, if not completely disappear.  But that time is not now.  To quote Winston Churchill, “Now, this is not the end.  It is not even the beginning of the end.  But it is, perhaps, it is the end of the beginning.”   Things will get better.

For now, get vaccinated, mask up and avoid gatherings as much as possible.


Cold? What cold?

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