People are more confused than scared in the rural west. As COVID 19 spreads and the quarantine becomes more serious, many are trying to figure out what’s going on. Groceries and gas stations are still open, along with the liquor store. Restaurants are doing take out. Things are alive under the surface of this frozen world – people are finding ways to escape the paralysis.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you
I will show you fear in a handful of dust
T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land
The streets are empty. An occasional single human walking in the dusk. The cattle trucks are running down the highway, the trains still roll the tracks. I look at social media; a whirlwind of opinion & self promotion even as the media falters juggling bits of incomplete information. I look at the world outside & it seems still – more quiet than normal, as if reflected in ice.
Rather than fear, I feel a sense of wonder at the strangeness of the world. Both because and in spite of COVID 19, the world is reborn, reimagined; the light casts different shadows. I haven’t had to use my voice much – silence is engulfing me, the distance between people ever greater as language fails and words fall out of thin air, muffled by a thin blanket of snow. The world is whole, outside, caressed by rushing wind… I’ll follow that wind to the end, into the canyon and across the Basin, asking for its truth.
What am I doing here has become a prescient question – more essential than existential. It’s a time to question my motivations, looking for what this journey can uncover both internally and in the world I move through.
It seems strangely appropriate traveling the vast landscapes of the American West during the outbreak of the CORVID19 virus. We are forced thru quarantine into involuntary isolation – it’s not so different being alone in these bleak landscapes – water and wind sculpted rock, sage, pinyon and blackbrush scrub and the feeling of infinite empty space between everything. Social distancing at its finest.
Arriving to grocery stores with barren shelves, 6 foot distance laws, and government regulated personal space feels post apocalyptic. Yet within it service workers, post office staff, bike mechanics and grocery clerks seem unperturbed… thank the working class for their pragmatism and willingness to help in the face of a perceived crisis.
Where will this adventure end? Is this the end already? I ask myself if it’s irresponsible to travel at this time – but there’s not going back at this point. Colorado is covered in snow, public transportation isn’t an option, and it’s unsure if return is worse than continuing. So the only way out is thru…
Every journey begins sometime and somewhere… leaving Leadville I was lucky to have Rafa from LeadVelo ride out with me. We drank some coffee, had some laffs and hiked thru some snow on the way to Salida.