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 Sixty One

Last evening, as my love and I prepared supper, the wind shifted, after what had been a bright and sunny day, and the sky was clouded with smoke. The stench of it was soon everywhere and we had to rush to close the windows. As we ate dinner we watched the clouds of smoke grow heavier and heavier, blanketing the sky with a foul miasma. Yet by the time we went to the bed the wind had shifted again and the sky was clear, the stars visible above.

The fires that produced this smoke were from two thousand kilometres away in the great empire where a raging inferno consumes the redwood forests along the Pacific coast. It is a vivid reminder, not that we need one during these strange days, that what happens far away can have tremendous impact on our lives. And what we do now will have echoes through the years, as Newton told us long ago.

The smoke was a brief reminder of our summers three and four years ago when forest fires to the north and west kept our skies blanketed with a pestilential smog. The sun burned red in the sky, the clouds brown and yellow. It was as though we had been transported to some alien planet. Day after day this went on as the fires burned, only a shift in the weather causing a morning or an afternoon of relief.

Recently we saw the remnants of one of those fires in our travels to the southwest of this dominion. There the prairies flow directly into the mountains, with no foothills and forests to separate the domains. A great fire burned through the area, coming through the mountain pass and south along the plains, climbing up the mountains as it went. The inferno moved day and night with a blinding speed, consuming grassland and forest, leaving only charred blackness in its wake.

Three years on one can still see the remnants of the fire. There are stands of dead trees covering the mountainsides, their branches and trunks burned to white in some places as though the fire had melted their flesh away leaving skeletons to remain as a warning. They are a ghostly presence wherever you go in those mountains, a reminder of what happened.

Yet all around these spectres is a profusion of greenery. Wildflowers blossom everywhere, grass and bushes cling to the mountainsides. Soon enough there will be saplings growing tall to replace the standing husks.

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