A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 91

MISSING!! If seen contact either Hardy or Emily at this address.

Thursday,  June 11

Gusty winds are blowing the beautiful pink blossoms off of our rhododendrons. Oh well, they don’t last long anyway—and then they just wind up as brownish clutter on the ground. Another metaphor for the human condition, as if we needed another one.

Emily is already concerned about the next plague: a mosquito-borne illness called eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), which causes severe brain inflammation and seizures. The sickness is rarely transmitted but results in death for 40% of those infected. And climate change is likely resulting in a proliferation of mosquitos in the east.

“Viruses are a paradox of civilization,” writes Oscar Schwartz, describing EEE in his highly literate article on the science blog OneZero. “These protein-ensconced splinters of DNA — animate only when infecting a host body — are so primitive that scientists cannot quite agree as to what side of the living/nonliving border they belong on. As our species has acquired dominion over nature, these zombies of the microscopic realm, devoid of thought and culture, emerge from nowhere to upend our lives, as if to remind us that our achievements are fleeting and fragile….” Schwartz’ digs deeply into the history of EEE, which first seemed to take effect in the 1830s among horses in Massachusetts. Unlike COVID-19, one human cannot give it to another, but let’s avoid mosquitos, O.K.?

Our rabbit has once again disappeared. On a given day, he’ll be around for a few hours then absent for a couple of days. I suspect that at some point he’ll just be gone for good. But it’s reassuring just how much he has seemed to like our yard, especially the tall grass, even if he didn’t get along with the fractious squirrels.

This morning, I’m trying a different strategy with the bread machine, which has been failing to produce nicely risen loaves. The usual recipe calls for adding the yeast after the water, honey, flours, and gluten. Today, imitating the approach I used in making pizza dough, I’m combining water, sugar, and yeast and allowing them to bubble up a bit before adding them to the machine and topping with dry ingredients. Stay tuned. (It turned out great.)

Damark’s market was not crowded at 10:30, and I got lettuce, radishes, eggplant, onions, and eggs but no charcoal. Maybe later, they said.

It’s looking a lot like rain. It’s supposed to be heavy this afternoon, says the weather service.

Dinner: one final installment of steak, plus capriccio salad (mozzarella, olives, tomatoes, celery, and balsamic dressing), and a little leftover potato.

Entertainment: House of Cards, American version via Netflix.