12.20.2020 10:40 AM

The dark despair of the Covid winter

From today’s New York Times. Amazing writing and perspective, here and some below:

For generations, as the days darkened and the blizzards came, the Anishinaabe people warned of the Windigo.

He is the monster of winter, dripping with ice and white with snow, and he is starving, said Robin Wall Kimmerer, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, as she remembered the story of her ancestors. He is a human turned cannibal. His hunger is never satiated, and it endangers everyone around him. He thinks only of himself.

In winter, a time of scarcity, she went on, he is a cautionary tale to remember the good of the community, beyond the self. Winter is known as the hungry time, the dangerous time, she said, and people counted their age not by years but by how many winters they have survived — that man has 70 winters, this woman has 16. They wintered in small family groups, not villages, to spread out the demand on the land.

This winter, as the coronavirus pandemic consumes the country, it is as though we are reliving the unbuffered winters of our ancestors, she said.

“In wintertime, all life is on that knife edge between life and death,” said Dr. Kimmerer, the director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. “Winter is a teacher of vulnerability.”

This year a raw and unbridled winter has descended. Its darkness is literal, with the coming of the solstice on Monday, and it is metaphorical, with the catastrophic toll of Covid-19, as each day the number of dead grows steadily. Across countries, the arrival of winter has filled people with fear and dread for what is to come.

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