Ian died in the autumn, unexpectedly. He wasn't much older than me. A heart attack took him while he was camping in Algonquin Park. I knew Lori first. We belonged to a writer's group I joined in 1989 after I struck up a conversation on the bus to Toronto. That was with Kate, not Lori.
I met several people who would be important to my life for awhile. One found some notable success as a writer. I stayed with another for a week or so during the summer of 1992, in Montreal. Two others remain friends, though contact became intermittent during the years they were raising their children.
Then there's Lori. She's was doing her Phd during the days of the writers' group. She has since written books poetic and academic.
She lives in a house in the woods. Draw a line from North Bay, Ontario to the Quebec border. The half-way point is roughly where she is. It's sold now. She's moving to a smaller place in July, in North Bay. Ian has a son from an earlier relationship. He has settled in Wisconsin. Lori and Ian have two daughters, both young adults now. The younger one is returning home Friday afternoon, because the pandemic has closed the universities. Both daughters have Native status through their father, who was Cree. Lori, like my wife, is blonde. I was one of the first people to visit when she first moved to this part of the world, a quarter century ago.
They still have snow on the ground here. Snow falls as we arrive, large flakes, and her affectionate black dog, part Labrador and parts unknown, runs out to greet us as we pull in the driveway. Lori wears a red robe, the hood pulled up around her head.
It's a safe place to be right now. To our knowledge, none of the local bears has tested positive for COVID-19.