Spring, For One Day Only

March 5, 2007

This past Saturday, the ragged old city of E-Town got a shot of the good stuff. We went from -20 on Friday morning to plus six on Saturday afternoon. It was a nice little respite; the type of weather that sends Edmontonians into a near orgasmic state of delight during which many people lose their nut. One of the shortest measures of time in the western hemisphere is the time between an E-Town thermometer crawling above zero and the sight of normally sane citizens wearing shorts, flip-flops, and boob tops. They were all out in full force this Saturday. The guy blasting Nazareth ( Shanghaid in Shanghai ) from his pimped-out Dodge half ton made me guffaw conspicuously. The dreadlocked white dame in the Phish t-shirt (does anyone listen to Phish these days?), cargo Dickies and lime green Birkenstocks had a similar effect. It struck me as particularly surreal that less than twenty-fours before, I was wearing a down-filled jacket, wool watchcap, and using chemical handwarmers to keep my fingers from falling off. Now, my wool sweater seems utterly gratuitous; my toque ridiculous and laughable. For an all too brief moment, with the bright lonely sun hot on my bearded face, I thought, “Maybe this is it. Maybe we’re outta the shithouse once and for all”. With Sunday’s temps dropping back into the tank, that little daydream now seems trite.

I guess that’s what happens when you go nose-to-fist with winter for five months of the year. You develop a hair-trigger for sunscreen and patio sitting. The transitional seasons always produce a unique insanity amongst the populace at large. In the same crowd of corner-standers you can often find at least one person in a parka and Sorels and another person in Tevas and shorts. The comedic value of such disparate climatic interpretations never gets old. I laugh my ass off every year, as if on cue.

Vignette #171

Table lamp, Kerry's Place, February 2007

Table lamp, Kerry's Place, February 2007

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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.

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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?

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