On my morning walk and it’s a gorgeous hummer of a day, 10 degrees of red, perfect shortsleeved breeze, blackbirds tackling the breaking sun, morning’s wet noodle kiss all over everything. A gray-haired woman walks towards me. Hands clasped on her belly and she carries a worried look. I’m walking at my usual Wednesday clip and adhering to the unwritten pedestrian code: “never complain, never explain” – attentive but not quite in the world. As we get closer, her look grows consternated. When we meet, she stops. She appears to be thinking. I can almost hear the gears turning. Finally, with a pleasant British accent, she asks me a question:
Do you think [Canada] should be in Afghanistan?
Her question strikes me as more rhetorical, but I answer anyways:
No. Our kids are dying over there.
“That’s what I thought,” she says as she waves her crooked but validated finger at me. As we pass, I look back at her and hear vague mumbling about war and injustice. I start mumbling something about war. Start thinking about war. Our boys and girls are over there trying to rebuild a war-torn nation. Killing and dying in the process. And here I am walking to work on a beautiful morning – sun on my face with nary a care in the world except my next footfall. Streets still wet from last night’s rain. Paper boxes empty.
Little Mike and Trish
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?