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It was just after 9 PM, and my smart watch vibrated as I was settling in for sleep. In 2019, this would not have happened as all contacts save for a couple were designated under the column of non-emergency contacts. Last night, however, three different people were eager to share that they had ventured out of the comfort of their homes and into a seasonably brisk evening to view the Blue Moon. These contacts were direct stakeholders in the lives of people which I had, that thanks mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I had become an emergency contact for when the excrement (literally and figuratively) hit the fan during late or early hours depending on how much of a nagging schmuck you are in the mornings. As I started losing consciousness as my head hit my pillow, my thoughts and dreams went directly to earlier in the summer when our skies were on fire, and our view of our Moon was hindered.

The smoke-filled skies and the view of our Moon as viewed on June 29th, 2023, at 9:30 PM.

Fast forward a few hours, and upon waking up, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the moon was still visible, and I took out my telephoto lens to capture the same event that millions of people on this planet had done. My thoughts remained on what this summer represented and that if you sat back and listened to people, you did not need hindsight to know that this summer was different.

The summer of 2023 was the first recognizable moment by elevated primates, humans, that we had passed the critical moment for our species. “I can’t believe that summer has come to an end,” said literally everyone in person and online.  “It is far too early for Autumn,” said many others as the temperatures started to cool. Everyone feels like they were being cheated of their deserved summer. If you are one of these people, then I got bad news for you. Get ready to feel slighted more as the years go on.

We feel as if we were cheated for a perceived shortened summer for two reasons. The first is climate change, and the second is the COVID-19 pandemic, which is not over by a long shot.

When speaking to many people over the last week, I was astonished to observe that a large portion of them had forgotten about our apocalyptic smoke-filled skies from only a couple of months ago. As wildfires continued to rage on, those on the East Coast forgot about how we stayed indoors due to air quality advisories or viewed photographs of the New York City skyline resembling the final two acts of Blade Runner 2046. Though those who I spoke to had to be reminded of how our lives here in Toronto were impacted by climate change, they did carry with it the trauma of not being able to live their desired lives.

This brings us to the second reason why this summer seemed increasingly fragile. This was the first summer that most pandemic restrictions were lifted, and normal citizens could once again dream about travelling and partaking in activities they loved. That is until they had to cancel their plans due to their vacation destination being on fire. But wait, it will get worse, and these people who laugh at the sight of those who still need to wear PPE in public will potentially once again have their movements either restricted or, more likely, directly proportional to elevated consequences of causing more deaths.

At the time of writing, there are two COVID Omicron variants of concern, EG.5 and FL.1.5.1, and one which is being monitored, BA2.86. These mutated variants are more contagious and causing a rise in cases globally, and more importantly, the upcoming vaccine booster shots are not designed for them. As methods of reporting cases lose funding and focus, we are entering another resurgent last two quarters for COVID-19.

The Blue Moon, as viewed on August 31st, 2023

And before you rely on the very economical yet indolent human characteristic about making assumptions about COVID being like other respiratory viruses being seasonal, remember that COVID is not a normal respiratory virus. Just as we may brush warnings of climate change aside as wildfires start to die down, record-setting and path-defying tropical storms are now taking their turn at the podium to destroy our hard-fought lifestyles.

So, as you look up at a clear night sky, be grateful that you can. Be grateful that you can do so in relatively good health and that the world is still managing to operate. As we continue to read articles and reports of our climate worsening and of new pathogens rising and mutating, we must not take these days for granted while honouring the very real traumas of our recent past, for if we continue to ignore what we just went through, the rise in pathologies will be yet another obstacle we all must safely navigate around as we try to provide for our loved ones.

Time of writing – August 31st, 2023