Up early on Saturday with Springsteen’s version of Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep running through my head. Such a holy opening must be followed up by something a little more prosaic, I think. Figure it’s 10:00am: Time to hit the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market. At this time of year, the Market smell is gorgeous. It’s the smell of fresh produce and it’s a scent that is nonexistent in the big “S” grocery stores1. The morning lettuce is always a joy, and at this time of year, the blueberries are especially loved and welcomed. Two baskets of blueberries for a measly eight bucks, a dozen peaches for six, a large basket of cherries for eight. I must say that the fruit people are all well-washed and are fine specimens of their respective genders. Don Antonio offers his usual warm greetings and I pick up a few tubs of his face-rippingly awesome salsa – undoubtedly the best available in the city. The tomato girl is glad to see me and offers a shopping bag for the several clutches of delicious vine-ripened reds that I have picked up.
Offer accepted, young lass. After eating these tomatoes the grocery store versions seem miserable. During the lean winter months, when nary a vine-ripened red is available at the market, my household has taken to doing without tomatoes. They’re that good, and it makes their March return that much sweeter. And the carrots! Good Christ the carrots! Two pounds doesn’t seem like enough, but that’s all I can carry at this point.
Outside, the hot dog wrangler has just set up shop. Good timing, I think, because all this commerce has whipped up a fierce hunger in the gulliver. The guitar-playing guy is playing an instrumental medley. I recognize a few chords but he’s changing things too fast to keep up. Seems to be a fitting way to end my morning. I listen to him pluck as the bums drink beer in the shade.
1 Somehow, that fresh market smell reminds me of being pulled through the aisles of Safeway by my Mother many years ago…
Old Scona Farmers Market in Edmonton, July 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?