Sometimes, when the light is just right, the old schoolyard out back of the house looks exactly like a faded snapshot. That is, an image that evokes a time of soccer-ball-against-the-fence innocence. It’s a feeling that pops in to visit occasionally. It brushes by, stays for a moment and then leaves before you recognize it. The light is great tonight and out back the kids are yelling and kicking a ball around. They sound so very free. A few older kids wander into the scene but leave the younguns alone. A yellow dog bolts across the field and chases one of the young boys. Someone comes screaming around the corner on a bike and crashes into the ground. No cries are heard — just laughter. I sit and admire this simple scene. The evening colors are shifting and the touches of gray are fading into tomorrow. The rains may rear their heads again, but not tonight says the weatherman. His cognizance isn’t the best these days anyways. Not tonight say the teenagers smoking on the swingset. Not tonight says the boy with the bloody knee and the folded bike. Not tonight say the kids playing soccer over there, their ball hitting the chain link and sounding like a bell. Not tonight says I, letting the kids bring it all back to me.
Sign, High Level Bridge, April 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?