The late winter is giving way to spring, swept in on the valley wind that seems more intense every year. Old timers in the valley alternatively bemoan the lack of the “real” winters of their youth, and deny that the change in climate is anything to worry about. But Franny, who’s only lived here for a few years, recognizes the shifting patterns.
Milder winters, windier springs, hotter, dryer, more fire-prone summers. As she leans into this afternoon’s cold, brittle gusts on her walk around campus, Franny smiles at the memory of a time when the wind was her biggest spring worry, when the abstract notion of climate change could give her a sleepless hour or two. The pandemic has reorganized her anxieties into new patterns of their own.
She has not yet been vaccinated; she is content to wait until higher priority groups are taken care of. The mess of vaccine distribution exposes, yet again, the disparities so brutally exacerbated by the pandemic, and this is now on her list of anxieties.
The list grows: keeping her friends and family well, supporting the local business that are hurting so badly, adjusting to a new phase of relationship with Leo, the ten pounds that have found their way to her middle since the quarantine began, the ache in her lower back, the pressure of bringing new creative ideas to life that builds in her belly.
And more: can her community heal the wounds of division that split open over the pandemic year? Pine Street held onto her when she was splitting open inside, helped her heal, gave her a new life and a new love. Can she return the favor?
The wind that stings her eyes and makes her nose run swirls her fears into a frenzy. On the nearly-empty campus, joined only by magpies and starlings, Franny yells her fear as loudly as she can, a howl of pain and loss and the annoying, persistent scratching of hope.