We set out running right after work. The Just and I had our sights set on Smoky Lake, Alberta, a sleepy little town about an hour northeast of the city. Perfect night for it, too. Nary a cloud in the sky and a barely perceptible breeze running through the air. Windows down, loyal hound in the backseat, 120 plus. Highway 28 presented itself wonderfully and we marveled at the glacial pace at which a certain barn was crumbling to the rapeseed field surrounding it. The town of Smoky Lake appeared from around a bend in the highway and it was a beautiful entry scene. Surrounded by gently rolling hills studded with hay bales and sprawling, brightly colored canola fields, one might swear it was the English countryside. We passed the hotel restaurant (where I once demolished an astonishing BLT), a crumbling, abandoned hotel, and the World Famous Red Chimney liquor store. Stumbled into the Mohawk and were, doubtless, recognized instantly as outsiders. We were treated well nonetheless. Slushees in hand, we took to the countryside to admire Alberta’s most visually pleasing crop: Canola. Those fields of sturdy yellow (The photo you see up there is a false color image) were stirring in their size and pure yellowness. We took a zen approach to the whole thing. Exchanging nary a word between us, we just sat there and watched the plants sway in the breeze. A single long-beaked bird swirled overhead, protective of its nearby nest. A red Dodge pickup, rusted to the wells, stumbled by. The field swayed as a gentle inland sea,
rapeseed fields running yellow
sun on our backs —
False color image of a canola field, Smoky Lake, Alberta
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?