Walking, bussing, and driving through the city the past few days. The sunlight’s getting skinny and’ll get skinnier before we turn the corner on Dec 21. You know that low time – the half-light in-between time? That’s my favorite part of the day. The low contrast is most pleasing to my eye. My eyes don’t have to do any heavy lifting. Nothing stands out too much and everything swims in a comfortable take. I was at Belvedere the other day and the light was gray. Clouds made it moreso than the sun’s natural crawl, but it was a beautiful time to observe. All the homeward faces seemed placid and accepting. The orange bus route markers pointed the way. I sat down on a stone / wooden bench and watched everyone. Watched the 10 pull in and go again. The 99 showed up. Have no idea where it came from or where it was bound. Didn’t write anything down. Every few minutes, the bells and the flashing arms announced another train. I let them go, even though I should’ve been heading home.
I fell asleep on the train. Only for a second or two. You know those short sleeps that beg you to jump in? It was one of those, complete with the start of a dream. Head hit the glass. Coliseum, and I watched the faces on the platform. Dour most, but a few twinges of smile. White shoes mostly. Next stop was light – not many exits or entrances. Into the dark tunnel and into the guts of downtown. Dark brown platform tile and a bit of glass. Scarves and handgloves. A boy in sunglasses, hiding. Recorded voice on the PA. Racket of rails, standers swaying. Central station. Every city has a Central station, but ours connects the city to itself. It’s not easy to get out of here from Central. Groggy, but I got up and left the train. Long walk underground and a hop up to the street. Tripped a bit at the top.
Gray up there and I recognized everyone.
Number 3 Jasper Place in rearview mirror, Edmonton, October 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?