Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Fifteen

I awake to snow on the ground and a chill to the air. Winter holds sway for another few days at least. There are years when it slinks away without notice, surrendering its dominion to spring without issue, the cold evaporating away leaving warmth and rain showers in its absence. This year it seems to be entrenching itself, setting up barricades and daring whoever might come to dislodge it from its place.

The winters used to be much grimmer in the Lost Quarter, as with so many things. The snow piled up so high that it stood as tall as the lamp posts. The train would be obscured by the mountains of snow on either side of the track, a strange and dark passage through the countryside. In my youth, which is long enough ago now, I recall weeks where the temperature grew so frigid we were essentially trapped in our homes.

Now there seems to be less snow than there once was, and though the cold comes it is never for quite as long. It is easier than it was, most of the time. There were warm winters before, of course. Everyone in the Lost Quarter has heard the story of the baseball tournament played on New Years Day. And the weather has always been fickle in these parts. You can still get snow most any day of the year and it can be as warm as a summer’s day in the dead of winter.

Lately though the changes have become more abrupt. One almost has a feeling of whiplash. There is a tremendous violence to so many storms now. The seasons themselves seem to keel around like drunkards at the end of a long night. One year it will be hot and dry with no relief, the next there will be flooding because the rain just will not cease. The middle, the average seems gone, and we have only the extremes.

Some years ago there was a fire in the Lost Quarter. There are fires every year, of course, but this year happened to be a particularly dry one. The wind was blowing at a gale force, as it often does here, and so the flames swept across the plains. The grass was so dry the fire burned incredibly hot, leaping ahead and over roads and creeks, as if thrown forward by the wind. Cattle were engulfed, houses too. Nothing could stand in its path. Eventually the locals were able to gather together to make a last stand. They plowed fire breaks with their tractors and used water trucks to beat back the flames. They slowed its path in time for the wind to quiet and eventually the fire died, having no more fuel to feed itself, leaving blackened and smoldering plains for miles.

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