In Edmonton, February is about getting through. For voluntarily living through this shit we could be heroes or jackasses. We’re probably a bit of both. Acres of snow. Temperatures in the tank for weeks on end. Gray afternoon skies framed with grayer mornings and evenings. Crawling busses, always late and crowded. A sun that doesn’t open her mouth before 7:30. Rutted roads and hellish snow windrows. Low energy and a niggling desire to burn something down out of sheer coldness and/or misanthropic bliss. It all adds up to a nice big bag of shit that we each take a turn caressing. Sometimes a bizarre fatalism enters my brain wherein I believe this winter will not end. It can’t be possible that, in three short months, I will be standing at this very bus stop in shorts and shades. Is this corner the same place in the summer? I dunno. Maybe it’s just me.
These things go some ways to explain the listening that I’ve been putting in these days. The Dirty Three are in the ‘phones almost continuously. Their ambient sensibilities seem to float in that rarefied air between comfort and revelation. The falling snow seems to dance into the violin and the crush of pack snow and car tires meet cymbals almost perfectly. Looking out the bus window to the gray becomes tolerable; almost beautiful. It’s a gaze and a moment that the right song, chosen wholly by accident and whose validity is measured in split seconds, frames exactly. It’s a resonant frequency that slithers into some dormant place inside and produces appreciation for – nay, intense recognition of – the moment. Sometimes I wonder how music and winter do what they do.
Bus on 109 st. portal
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?