Of course, walking in a snowfall is a considered move. E-Town got a little shot of the late winter white last night and it would’ve been a shame to let it happen without some up-front examination. Just the right temp out here – a few degrees below zero. On the drive (Saskatchewan Drive – ed) tonight and downtown is cloaked in gray/white. Forty thousand little white notes fall from the sky and although we’ve had winter’s flat horn in our ears for the past five months, the dizzy white is a pleasure to see and feel. Sidewalks are treacherous booby traps. Bridge railings are salted. The ghostly image of the Rossdale plant lingers in the valley at the edge of perceptibility. I look up over the top of my glasses and catch a few flakes right in the eyeball. Feels damn good. The black jacket is collecting a layer of the stuff and the watchcap, the humble and under appreciated watchcap, has a nice coating on its ribbed wool surface.
Too late for after work, too early for late night cavorting, I pass a few other snow walkers, all decked in varying types of snow dress. The University girl with the black rims brushes white from her orange downfill. The middle aged guy kicks with head down, ass up determination. Older woman walks confidently in her woolen longcoat and lug-soled hiking shoes. Street lights have yet to come on around here, but with the snow tapering off I believe that I’ll miss the sight of flakes passing through the orange sodium of the streetside cobraheads. Small flashes that enter the light, move, and fade. A shame. That’s probably the best part of walking around when the snow is flying. When I get home, the watchcap is damp. I set it on the kitchen table, beside a lighter and a pack of gum with one piece missing.
Notebook and pack of gum, March 2007
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?