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 Fifty Eight

The southern reaches of the Lost Quarter seem to never really end. There is no border, no definitive point at which one leaves or enters. This is one of the reasons the ways into the Quarter are so easily forgotten. You have to know where you are to find where you’re going.

If the south of the Quarter has a border, it is a narrow, milky river that turns south into the great empire beneath us. It was not the border for Those Who Went Away, nor for the first of Those Who Came. Both moved back and forth across the river, using it as a campsite on their way to other places. The border between the great empire and the dominions was not settled, at least not in the minds of anyone who lived there, and the vast prairies stretched on in every direction for hundreds of kilometres.

We ventured there two weeks ago on our vacation. It is a place at once familiar and strange. Familiar because of the prairie, short grass bowing to the wind. The smell of it, of sage and buckbrush, is the smell of the Quarter. Of home.

The river valley though is another world, a badlands of sandstone hoodoos, twisted and gnarled things with an eerie, ominous beauty. Thickets of cottonwoods, chokecherry and buffalo berry huddle close to the river, so that when you descends into the valley from the sandstone, you enter another world again, one verdant and thick with foliage, utterly different from the surrounding plains.

It was a frequent camp as a result for Those Who Went Away, before their terrible exile, and the marks they left upon the sandstone are still visible for all to see. Stories of a lost age, almost vanished, as the wind, snow and rain slowly wear away the stone.

Only a few of us ventured through the heat of the day along the trails to look at the hoodoos and the pictographs. Most people stayed near the cool of the river, among the cottonwoods, where surely Those Who Went Away must have idled once. The river itself hardly flowed, dry patches showing here and there. The trickle a result of a broken dam somewhere to the south. The great empire is crumbling and seemingly making no effort to fix itself and we, so far away, must suffer the consequences.

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