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 Ninety Eight

There is a grove of trees in the Lost Quarter that was planted by one of the first of Those Who Came, not long after Those Who Went Away were sent into their sorrowful exile. He sought to break the terrible winds that are as much a part of the Quarter as its grassy plains and rolling hills. At one time the trees must have been in rows, but they have long since grown beyond those confines, leaving winding looping paths through the undergrowth.

In my youth I would often wander those secluded trails. It was like entering another world, closed off from the surrounding great plains, the view of the horizon absent as it was nowhere else in the Quarter. Every year some new trees had sprouted, and older ones had fallen over dead, so that the paths were never quite as you remembered them.

Winters there would be coyote and fox tracks marked in the snow, though there was no other evidence of the creatures. There would be smaller tracks too, of voles, mice and birds hopping about on the snow. These would often come to an abrupt halt where there was an imprint of wings in the snow, where an owl had swooped in to snatch them in its talons.

I collected walking sticks from among the fallen wood, imagining they were staffs and I a wizard in some land far from the Quarter. As I walked among the trees, leaning on my staff, watching the play of light and shadow through the leaves, I could almost imagine it being so.

Trees in the Quarter do not grow so aged as those in other parts of the world though, and the grove now is much reduced. The paths are broader, mostly straight, and there is little in the way of undergrowth. One can make out the surrounding farms and fields wherever one is. There is no feeling of slipping off and disappearing into another world.

The last time I returned to the grove I did not linger as I passed through. I had things to do and the magic of the place had long since vanished.

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