6:57am, Monday. The morning’s crusties were rubbed away with a mellow hand and I am enjoying the morning shirtsleeve weather. The girl at the cafe is bubbly as usual and doles my coffee out in that happy but perfunctory manner than she has, her with the cropped hair and the geek glasses. A tall decaf this morning, with a full inch left for cream. Two sugars and I’m out the door and at the bus stop, waiting on the 6. She comes soon enough and she’s sailing light. I grab the front seat because it’s Monday. Across from me a mother is holding her young squirming daughter. No more than three, the daughter’s got hair out to tomorrow – stunning ripples of bright red hair – and she’s a little vocal firecracker, yakking up a storm and generally disturbing the peace.
Until she sees me, that is. The second our gazes meet, her mouth stops chugging. She gives me a quizzical look, puts her little finger in her mouth, like she’s trying to figure out why the triangle block doesn’t fit into the square hole. She blinks and I smile. She cracks a little smile and waves. I wave back. Little one is still silent. Her Mom pulls the cord. I take a generous gulp of coffee and bid the cute little gaffer and her redbone mane goodbye with a wave. As her mom carries her off, the little one yells “BYE BYE!” in that really loud, little kid voice that is either charming or annoying, depending on your view. Right now it’s charming as hell, so I give her my best little kid, full palm wave and give her a nice loud “BYE!” of my own. The kid waves back with her whole arm, and she’s off with Mom. I smile to my java, take another long sip.
StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.
The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?