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 Eighty Two

Another day with no sunrise, the sky an endless grey haze, dark now, but growing lighter. Walking outside the grit gathers in the corners of your eyes, so that by the time you return home you need to wash your face. Oddly there is no smell of smoke despite its evidence everywhere.

It is like having a ceiling above you everywhere this sky, one that feels lower and lower every time you glance up. The towers in downtown threaten to pierce this ceiling. You almost fear what would happen if the did.

Some years ago now I lived in the far western dominions in a great city upon the Pacific sea. There the winters were cruel, not because of the cold, but because the clouds would descend as soon as November came, if not sooner, and not let up until March or later. The rain that came with it would last for days, sometimes despairing weeks. Storm after drenching storm would come, broken only by an hour or two when the rain would cease, but clouds would remain.

It was one of the reasons I left, journeying elsewhere. The endless gloom of the skies wore at me considerably over those years, in ways I never quite realized until I left for sunnier climes. For me, the natural state of the sky is vast, clear and sunny. In that place with it’s low sky and clouds that never left for long, I often felt trapped, as though the whole of the atmosphere was pressing down on me.

 I recall sitting with friends in that city watching news reports from the Lost Quarter. The bovine disorder had recently infected some cattle there, resulting in massive culling and closed borders to trade. A devastation that impacted my family, and many others, for years. They interviewed a rancher on the matter, standing in front of a corral, almost leaning against the fence. The whole setup looked like a painting or a scene in a movie.

My friends commented on the fact. “Why do they have him standing in front of that green screen?” they asked. It was no false backdrop I told them. That was how the sky looked there. They seemed not to believe me.

It seemed utterly absurd, so much so that I often wonder if the conversation actually happened, though I know it did. The Quarter had never seemed extraordinary to me, but now I saw that it was. What seems natural and normal here, hardly worth commenting on, is incredible, almost unbelievable elsewhere.

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