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 One Hundred Twelve

Summer in the Lost Quarter typically means rodeos. Cowboys and rough stock move from town to town  with crowds gathering to watch the performances. Bucking horses and bulls. Wrestling steers and roping calves. Racing horses around barrels. Some towns will have wild cow milking. Others will have wild horse races. Children strap hockey helmets on their heads and clamber on the backs of sheep who race across arenas in a frenzy to loose themselves from this encumbrance.

This year will be different with the dread lord’s return to these parts. All the rodeos have been cancelled, the crowds forbidden from gathering and the participants unable to travel to the events. It will be a sad thing for many of the towns have few events that bring people together in celebration. Many of the events have origins going back a century or more. Wars and floods and other calamities have not forced their cancellation, but the grippe reborn has.

My ancestors have always raised cattle since they came to the Lost Quarter with the first of Those Who Came after Those Who Went Away were exiled, but they would never call themselves cowboys. Many of those I know who raise cattle would decline the moniker as well, even if they spend most of their working days on horseback among cattle. Cowboys (and girls) are those who participate in rodeos, travelling from town to town to try their luck.

Once the rodeos only had locals proving the skills they had honed working with the cattle out on the range. The most skillful would travel to nearby towns to try to earn a living at it. But rodeo, like all sport, is a fickle thing and one can win one day only to lose the next seven. The only way to ensure you could make a real go of things was to participate in as many competitions as possible, travelling as widely as you could, and practice whenever you weren’t competing.

In short it has become a profession. And like so many other athletic professions, it is only truly available to those with the time and money to spare to make the commitment. Who can afford to spend their summers (and even winters in southern climes) traipsing from town to town, paying entrance fees and other expenses, with no guarantee of a paycheck? Who can afford to dedicate themselves to that craft to the exclusion of nearly all else?

It stands in stark contrast to the cowboys of old, the ones we all think of when we watch rodeos. Once this game was a way for those without the means to find their way in the world. Now those people are excluded by the expense and it is a simple proving ground for those with the means to indulge their passions.

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