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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Collateral counts

BY Sonny Orr Feb 1, 2022

As the weather crisped up, the blowing snow tried to etch a frostbite sculpture into my face. I was happy to wear a mask as it helps prevent my skin from glowing neon red. As chapped cheeks get chiselled by wind gusting at highway speeds, I was thankful to reach my porch… only to discover it was buried under all that white fluffy stuff. 

Arrgghh! Winter can be something to contend with, but winter is normal life. Just like the good old days, when scarves froze solid after absorbing too much moist breath. Still, the winter blues can take one’s mind away from existing problems that aren’t normal, namely the stupid pandemic that just won’t go away.

As I watch the snowblower clear a 10-foot drift from the only road out of town, I see a full moon looming and the orange sun setting, making for a beautiful evening. We can gaze upon the frozen beauty of the North, the sparse overgrowth of stunted black pines providing a perfect contrast to the dramatic light, painting a scene worthy of any jigsaw puzzle. 

Speaking of jigsaw puzzles, we are stumped by the 1000-piece instructions telling us how to get about, what are safe zones or grey zones. Where is the piece that will fit and finally allow us to see the big picture.

First the defiance and disbelief then the shock of having to do something that you really don’t want to do. Then having to do it again and again year after year. Finally, the realization that this is a very antisocial virus. It seems that the only safe way is to communicate through the filter of technology. 

Then there are the line-ups. It’s the training for the food handouts we will get because the system is broken. Broken because we can’t stop transmitting this disease. At this rate, a tax on the unvaccinated won’t help much if it can’t be applied immediately. So, I checked out how other countries have managed to minimize the spread as much as possible.

Some countries seem to maintain the same lifestyle they have always had, except for the masks. Masks are everywhere and the latest videos on Facebook show nearly everyone wearing them, even on television shows. 

However, I didn’t notice too many fans in large sports venues south of the border wearing masks. No one was using batons to enforce Covid restrictions there. At least in hockey games there is less bloodletting than there used to be. The game seems to lack the usual lustre and bluster of full body contact fans used to enjoy. 

The Omicron variant is far more promiscuous than earlier prototypes. Perhaps this is because it had more time to mate and mutate on the other side of the world before reaching our households. 

But how could this have happened, we ask ourselves. Perhaps we don’t ask ourselves the right questions or come up with the right answers. Am I having close contact with others? If the answer is zero, then you are doing good. Keep that up. 

If not, please don’t think that this is a numbers game. It’s not a game. It’s real life biting us hard in the butt and telling us to wake up and change our behaviour. That is a dare, now take it.

As for me, my daring young days are splattered like a Jackson Pollock painting with near misses. But there’s no more shenanigans for this dude. Stay safe and keep your collateral count as low as possible. I think that’s something the Terminator would say, but he’s not real. 

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Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.