A little poem to start with, inspired by the rainbow in the photo above.
On the vulcán, December
Trade winds carry clouds
brushed in bright color
We’re all glad for the arrival of our “summer.” Dry season, really. From now until around the first of May, we won’t expect to see any appreciable rain.
A couple of friends stopped by last night to share pizza. “Night,” I suppose, is not quite descriptive. They picked up a couple of pizzas on the way over, arriving at 4:00. Outside, sun and a mild breeze, sipping Cacique and tonic while sitting well-spaced around the table, followed by the pizza and wine. Easy talk. 6:00, we said our goodbyes, leaving time for a couple hours of reading. That’s a pretty normal schedule for us, these days.
The pizza was made by a neighbor, José Javier, in the kitchen of the home of his parents. The pandemic has caused severe economic hardship here – unemployment is over 20%. People are being pretty inventive in finding ways to get by. Like, for example, a young man making pizza for take-out (para llevar) out of a home kitchen. Javi’s pizzas are delicious, and the pick-up just a few minutes away. A Javi pizza has become a regular event for us. Similar kinds of business endeavors are continually springing up – more than one would notice, as no signs bring attention to their existence. Word gets around.
Life continues, simple and undramatic. We like it that way.
Today Irina and I celebrate first meeting twenty-nine years ago in Seattle. On December 7, 1991, the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, we were thrown together in the back seat of a car, driven by mutual friends to a port-tasting party. Six months later we were off together on the adventure of living in the countryside of the South of France. We have been inseperable ever since.
The “day of infamy” also marks the entry of the U.S. into the Second World War. For the U.S, the war lasted only a little under four years, 1941-1945.
Today, December 7, 2020, officially confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. may – and by the end of the day tomorrow, will certainly – surpass total combat U.S. deaths in World War II.
U.S. combat deaths by war
World War II
American Civil War
World War I
American Revolutionary War
War of 1812
War in Afghanistan
Mexican American War
Selected American military actions, not considering those involving native peoples
2,006 people died on the day of the bombings of September 11, 2001, the shock and horror of people jumping to their deaths from the burning towers of the World Trade Center provoking a bout of national insanity and leading to the invasion of Iraq, a country which had nothing whatsoever to do with the attack. Over the last week the U.S. has been averaging well over 2,000 deaths daily from COVID-19. The country is presently suffering from another bout of insanity, inflamed by the country’s leadership, over the “right” to endanger others by going mask-free in public places and attending large gatherings in inclosed spaces with no social distancing or any other protective measures.
U.S. involvement in Vietnam spanned twenty years – from 1955, taking the place of the French, to 1975. That misguided, delusional war provided the context of my coming of age. I had drawn a low draft lottery number, and efforts to avoid being sent off to the killing fields dominated my days and decisions. Almost 50,000 young American men and women died there, in combat. Back home, there were riots in the streets protesting the senseless slaughter of Americans and Vietnamese alike. Then-president Lyndon Johnson had, at last, the decency to accept responsibility for the debacle and to decline to run for re-election to a second full term in office.
Today the U.S. is engulfed in a different kind of war, a kind of civil war. Men and women, sometimes wielding automatic weapons, gather to protest against counting votes, against lockdowns and other measures designed to protect against the spread of the virus. The Supreme Court, to its everlasting disgrace, has weighed in by ruling against reasonable restrictions on large gatherings in churches. Meanwhile, a sitting president refuses to accept the results of an election which he lost, whining in bad faith about phantom voter fraud and scheming to somehow reverse the results.
Records from the American Civil War are incomplete, but it is accepted that nearly twice as many soldiers died from disease as on the battlefield. Total deaths of soldiers from both sides are now estimated to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 761,000. If nothing more is done, quickly, to arrest the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S., deaths will in due course grow to exceed total combatant deaths during the Civil War. The arrival and widespread administration of any vaccine will come far too late.