WOW. I froze my agates off yesterday morning. I thought that The Weather Network was lying when they said it was a minty -28 outside. I thought that the guys who update that shit had been drawing a little too heavy from the bowl or tipping back a few extra Test-Tube Schnapps Shooters in between lines of drain cleaner. Yeah. After chiseling the hoarfrost from my toque, I’d say that they were pretty much bang-on.
When it is ass-breakingly cold outside, my fellow busriders and I share a kind of proud idiocy for enduring all the shit that ‘ol man winter throws at us. There is a great relief when the bus finally pulls up; a kind of voluntary appreciation – like we’ve taught ourselves a lesson. Once in a while I get to talking with my fellow crazies. Inevitably, perhaps twice a year, I get the jackass who pulls out that ‘ol saying that everyone in E-Town hates; the one saying that is guaranteed to get fists a-clenching and foreheads a-melting.
“Well buddy, cold enough for ya!?“
I didn’t think that anyone said that anymore. I thought it was stricken from the books.
“Actually, no. It isn’t cold enough. I’m hoping we go into the tank even further. Minus fifty, then I’m happy.”
“Are you nuts?”
“Hey, I’m standing here with my balls retreated up to my chin – just like you, I’m sure. Yeah. Nuts.”
“Really, you like the cold?”
“I do, actually. It makes me feel alive because I’m a red pube away form death. Kind of like hovering my face over the stove burner. Feelin’ it, y’know?”
“You’re weird, man.”
“Am I? What, haven’t you hovered your face over a stove burner before?”
“Then you don’t know what I’m talking about. You have no frame of reference. Go home and float your face an inch off a burner. And then get someone to sneak up and scare you. Trust me; you’ll view life very differently after you burn your cheeks voluntarily.”
“Listen man, I’m serious. How are you going to know you’re really alive unless you come close to death? Or at least injure yourself?”
The guy mumbles something and then walks away without really excusing himself (I love that manoeuvre; it’s my favorite exit strategy). I chuckle to myself and try to brush the liquid nitrogen off my jacket. I stomp my feet to keep them warm. My keyfob thermometer is no salvation – it doesn’t go this low. My breath hangs in the station as the busses shuttle in and out. My profound riding colleague has found his bus and his temporary sanctuary. My bus is late.
StreetRag ::: An Urban Notebook
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?