One of those mornings when everything is five minutes late including my hair and my breakfast. Slice of toast in hand, jam’d and PB’d, out the door and quick steps to the bus station. Almost get flattened by the 43 as it rounds the corner; narrowly escape being crowned by the sideview mirror. Gentle morning with not enough time to really take it in, morning papers snoozing on porches, birds are throating, and the sun is tapping Monday on the shoulder. I get passed by a swift walker in a tunic with matching pants – hospital worker, first person I’ve seen on this dash – and enjoy the company for the brief moment we’re in unison. At the station, University crowd a-bumble, backpacks and cool everywhere. The clunk of the busses and that old familiar rumble. Don’t see my ride; I must be earlier than I thought.
A few sandaled villanelles still floating around in the heavy wood of late September; beachwear downright alien when breath is visible. Heavy cigs in right hands, twirls of gray to heads, snags of bus smoke to the steeples of the school. Bus shelter reeks like urine and perfume, outside a squirrel charges a tree and clicks. My bus pulls up and the usuals pour out. I see these people every day, no names, no context, no history, just them in the moment. The girl with matted blonde hair. The site grunt with the Klein tool belt (looking as rough as I feel). The coffee-grasping office girl. The three kids with unintentionally matching runners. My familiars. Two and a quarter into the fare collector, gently ripped cheapo-paper transfer, “G’mornin’” from the driver, “G’mornin’” from me, never too tired for pleasantries, always awake when standing or walking.
My head against the window and a bit of eye shut. All the usuals on board plus a few out-of-the-ordinaries sitting at the front with concerned looks. Hip hop from the guy’s headphones. Some Priest Live from mine. Wishing I had a pillow or a soft toque. Bus purrs into the valley, the green turning more yellow and orange with every passing day. The hobbling sunrise is welcome, especially for that fleeting week or so when it is timed perfectly with my passage over the Groat bridge. Not quite yet. I nod off somewhere on Groat Road, that twisting stretch of roadway always seems hypnotizing to me. My head hits the window hard and I’m startled awake as the bus pulls on to 107 ave and makes its way west. Up through some North Glenora residential finery and finally approaching Westmount. Off the bus with a slightly sore head and a three minute nap under my belt. Four hundred and eighty minutes until I make the trip back. Workaday Monday. Still got the bus transfer, got enough to get home.
Street Lamp, Foliage
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?