Last year, at this time I was driving home from NM grateful to be hearing cardinals and seeing red bud trees in bloom, oh so grateful to be returning to the Northeast. I was badly frightened by the specter of a virus that was bearing down on a country that up until this point behaved as if nothing could overcome its hubris, its power, and its addiction to consumerism and wealth.
One year later I learn that I am one of thirty three percent of Americans that have received the vaccine. Other countries are not so fortunate. The virus is still very much with us and it’s mutating and becoming more infectious; many people are refusing to behave as if this threat exists, even as Covid is beginning to spike again across the country.
In Maine the threat is serious. Every week cases continue to spike. Today, April 5th, there are almost 300 hundred new cases just in this county, and this is a trend that keeps climbing. It is staggering to realize in our area that one out of 22 people is carrying the virus and doesn’t know it.
Meanwhile the State of Maine has lifted all travel restrictions to support the economy (that seems bent on killing us one way or the other), while also stating that the reason the virus is spiking is because people are traveling more and mutants are more infectious (they don’t mention deadly). I feel as if I am living in a surreal culture composed of humans who no longer have access to common sense.
When it was time to be vaccinated I was uneasy, certainly not elated. Coming home from the hospital after my second injection, with my young friend I felt woozy like I had after my first shot and wondered if I would become ill. Earlier, I had spoken to my body with compassion, telling her I was sorry that I had to put her through yet another physical invasion by agreeing to inject this deadly virus into my arm. For the second time in a month she would be forced to fight off infection.
After my friend left I spent the afternoon in bed. Although I did not feel really ill, I wanted to give my body a chance to rest. The next day the reaction hit with a vengeance and I was ill for three more days during which time I researched second dose reactions for the first time. I have a very sensitive system that responds negatively to medications of all kinds and I had no idea what this virus might do to my body. I had not done this earlier because I didn’t want to go into this troubling situation biased.
What I learned was that it was mostly women who had the reactions and when I discovered this fact the feminist in me woke up as I recalled that most medications were tested on men rather than women because women’s physical bodies were more complex. Had the same scenario occurred with this vaccine? I didn’t know but suspected it did. If so, we needed to re –test the vaccine with females. Judging by my reaction and those of other women some of us were literally being poisoned by a vaccine whose long-term consequences still remain totally unknown.
I am not suggesting that we not get vaccinated because, of course we ALL must in order to stem the viral tide. What I am saying is that women, especially those with sensitive systems be made aware of complications that might arise.
It’s also critical to understand that being vaccinated does not mean a person will not get this disease. For those of us, like me, with a compromised immune system (because of emphsyma as well as my age) remaining vigilant is a necessity.
Today, I am reflecting on this past year with Covid. In my case the virus changed little including my fear of it. I am used to being alone – well not quite. I have two devoted dogs and a bird, Lily b, and a very small bubble of friends that I interact with regularly; my young friend is here the most. Need I add he is always masked? During the summer and fall I spent time with others outside, hiked almost continuously, participated in writers Zoom meetings in the evenings, but mostly I took simple pleasure out of being with this piece of earth that I belong to, participating by planting more trees and working in my gardens.
December brought a raging ice storm that destroyed more trees on my road and throughout my small forest than I could ever have imagined, creating deep distress. Freeze –thaw periods followed all winter long, further damaging the few young forests that are left in this area. Even now, the ice is still at least three inches thick in places around my house. Until two days ago I couldn’t enter my own woods – first time ever.
Around the vernal equinox the state began to widen a highway to accommodate those who inevitably brought the virus with them knowingly or unknowingly as they streamed into Sunday River Resort to ski all winter as they do every winter boosting Bethel’s local economy.
I’m told that our local spring, a precious resource that so many depend on that is located in the midst of the present carnage will not be affected. But since trees have already been taken from all around the spring damage has already been done because trees help purify the water. From what I learned from the town manager the desecration of the trees has only begun and will extend for miles. In his words “it will only take a year for new foliage to hide the damage.” I imagine this perspective is the dominant one.
Economic greed defines our culture and Maine is a tourist dependent state so both the masses of incoming people and the State of Maine are equally responsible for the destruction. As for the trees – well, they are expendable and will remain so until until we have used up this “resource” permanently.
Recently I had a disturbing dream:
I have written a poem about hunting and I know that it is good. Then I gradually realize that the hunting doesn’t involve animals.
It is the trees that are being hunted to extinction.
I awaken in horror. It’s been a hard year permeated with a virus that won’t quit because too many people are too selfish to follow sane rules even when there are some, insane doublespeak, and for me, this state of affairs is coupled with the destruction of beautiful trees, land, and forest in a state that once was so beautiful. It is the latter that is slowly erasing the memory of what used to sustain us, our intimate relationship with the Tree of Life.